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Journal: Best of Slashdot

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

Re:Bullshit (Score:2)
by girlintraining (1395911) Foe of a Friend on Wednesday December 17, @05:23PM (#26153681)

>If you go see the shuttle up close and your first thought is that it has a bad paint job, maybe you should just stick to playing with dolls.

Or maybe you should be less of a douchebag. The fact that something is an engineering marvel doesn't mean much to some people, but that doesn't mean that lessens the impact it has for them. Who hasn't looked up at a bird in the sky and wanted to journey? Who hasn't seen the stars and wished upon them? When I look at the shuttle, I don't see an engineering marvel. I see the realization of over twenty thousand years of human beings dreaming of having their own wings and flying through the heavens. And you know what -- I think I'm allowed to say it does have a bad paint job, and I could care less about the mechanical guts of it. That's not why it's beautiful.

Tanks, bombers, subs, and all that jazz you like--You can love them if you want, call them awesome. They're not special to me, they're just made so some people can kill other people. I'll stick with my dolls, and if you don't mind terribly, I'll be doing it in that badly painted bird over there that was built with hopes and dreams, instead of fears and insecurities.
--
All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small. ~ Lao Tzu

PC Games (Games)

Journal: How to reduce unwanted wars

Journal by TheLink
In the old days kings used to lead their soldiers into battle. In modern times this is impractical and counterproductive.

But you can still have leaders lead the frontline in spirit.

Basically, if leaders are going to send troops on an _offensive_ war/battle (not defensive war) there must be a referendum on the war.

If there are not enough votes for the war, those leaders get put on deathrow.

At a convenient time later, a referendum is held to redeem each leader. Leaders that do not get enough votes get executed. For example if too many people stay at home and don't bother voting - the leaders get executed.

If it turns out later that the war was justified, a fancy ceremony is held, and the executed leaders are awarded a purple heart or equivalent, and you have people say nice things about them, cry and that sort of thing.

If it turns out later that the leaders tricked the voters, a referendum can be held (need to get enough signatories to start such a referendum, just to prevent nutters from wasting everyone elses time).

This proposal has many advantages:
1) Even leaders who don't really care about those "young soldiers on the battlefield" will not consider starting a war lightly.
2) The soldiers will know that the leaders want a war enough to risk their own lives for it.
3) The soldiers will know that X% of the population want the war.
4) Those being attacked will know that X% of the attackers believe in the war - so they want a war, they get a war - for sufficiently high X, collateral damage becomes insignificant. They might even be justified in using WMD and other otherwise dubious tactics. If > 90% of the country attacking you want to kill you and your families, what is so wrong about you using WMD as long as it does not affect neighbouring countries?
User Journal

Journal: Quotes about dictatorship

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
-- Sinclair Lewis

"No people ever recognize their dictator in advance. He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will. . . . When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. And nobody will ever say 'Heil' to him, nor will they call him 'Fuhrer' or 'Duce.' But they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of 'O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!'"
---Dorothy Thompson, 1935

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security . . .".
---They Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer, 1955

User Journal

Journal: Quotes about fear

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular. This is not time for men who oppose Sen. McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result."
-- Edward R. Murrow

"The junior Senator from Wisconsin has caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right: 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves'".
-- Edward R. Murrow

Windows

Journal: Lock in on Windows XP instead of chasing Vista 1

Journal by TheLink
What people should do if they ever want windows is INSIST on XP instead of Vista!

If we hijack the Windows bandwagon from Microsoft, then Microsoft will be like a BIOS vendor when it comes to Windows. Anyone remember "IBM compatible PC"?

If almost everybody stays with XP and DirectX 9 and doesn't move on to Vista, then Windows XP+DX9 could become a defacto standard that even Microsoft can't get rid of! Just like Intel can't get rid of x86 - they tried and failed with their Itanic, and when IBM tried to switch to MCA.

Then the jobs of people doing Wine, Crossover office, Cedega and more become a lot easier - they have a fixed target instead of multiple moving targets.

Be realistic and ignore the fanboys out there, there are many valid reasons for wanting Windows. XP will continue to make a good substitute for Vista, unless more and more people start switching to Vista.

But there is no Linux substitute for Windows yet, BUT if enough people stick to XP, it becomes far more likely for there to be one.

Just a look at Vista will tell you that Microsoft is no longer improving things significantly or meaningfully, so we might as well freeze Windows, and be able to spend more time and resources on innovating elsewhere.

So everyone, start telling Dell, HP et all to preload and sell XP instead of Vista, and tell your friends to insist on XP instead of Vista.

There are already other valid reasons to prefer XP to Vista, for example: A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection

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Journal: Best of Slashdot

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

From roystgnr:

"...there's obviously still a gap between the amount of passion you've spent learning about both subjects and the amount you spend speaking about them. Calm down, take a deep breath, and back slowly away from the Caps Lock key..."

User Journal

Journal: Not your father's Republican Party

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

We need Republicans.

We need people who will tell business's side of the story, who will make us stop and think about radical social initiatives, people who will balance our national checkbook. That's what we need, that's what the Republican Party used to be about, but it's not what we've been getting for a generation.

Dwight Eisenhower was a great example of a traditional Republican. He believed in strong national defense but looked suspiciously at military adventures: he campaigned against Communism and also against intervention in the Korean War.

He also campaigned against corruption in government. He pushed for government money to be spent on projects with a real return, creating the Interstate Highway System, but still fought to contain the deficit as the Cold War expanded.

Republicans used to fight for their country. Bob Dole has spent sixty years in pain from an arm maimed in World War II. The first George Bush flew patrol torpedo bombers in combat, the most dangerous job in the Navy. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross for completing a mission before ejecting from a shot-up airplane. Nixon, a Quaker, could have been a conscientious objector but served in the South Pacific.

Republicanism used to mean conservatism, and one of the things it conserved was our nation's land and water. The Environmental Protection Agency was an initiative of Republican President Nixon (yes, that Nixon).

Republicans of history knew that they governed for all Americans and worked for the general welfare. Eisenhower presided over an increase in the minimum wage. Nixon tried to pass legislation for a guaranteed annual income.

Republicans were friends of business, but never captives of it. Eisenhower's cabinet was mostly millionaire businessmen, but he warned the country that someday we might be threatened by the corrupting influence of a "military-industrial complex" . He'd never heard of Halliburton but saw the risk.

Republicans then respected the law and the judiciary. When Little Rock's schools defied a court order to desegregate, Eisenhower reluctantly but firmly ordered in the Army to compel them at gunpoint.

Republicans then honored the Constitution and resisted tampering with it. One major conservative group was called Americans for Constitutional Action. In 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater declared "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice" . Things have changed since then.

In 1999 Republican candidate George W. Bush said "There ought to be limits to freedom" . In 2001 his Attorney General told Congress that people who want to preserve liberty "only aid the terrorists".

Eisenhower would have led the charge to investigate Halliburton, but when a representative of the people questioned Halliburton's no-bid contracts in 2004 the Republican Vice President said, on the Senate floor, "Fuck yourself".

What happened to the Republican Party, and where are the real Republicans now that we need them?

Form has trampled and triumphed over substance since television entrenched itself in our lives during the 60s and 70s. That's hurt our politics. Before television, the Republicans ran a candidate who had led Allied forces to victory in World War II. In 1968 they could still field a man who was a Navy veteran and first in his high school class. By 1980 the Republican candidate was an actor.

Weakness attracts predators, and when a president is easy to manipulate then the manipulators flock in. Incurious minds are at the mercy of their inner circle of advisors. In the shadows, party bosses grow rich, and then make sure the party never endorses someone with the character to oppose them. A party containing brilliant and accomplished men pushes Dan Quayles to the top.

What happened to the real Republicans? They seem to be Democrats now. President Clinton's welfare reform bill was a lot like Nixon's, only stricter. Our last budget surplus was under a Democratic president. Returning Iraq vets who run for office almost always choose to run on the Democratic ticket.

Today's Republican Party, with its obsessive control and blatant corruption, has become more like Democratic Mayor Daley's Chicago of the 60s.

Maybe, though, the problem is simply that the Republican Party has had power for too long and only knows how to seek more power. Barry Goldwater warned about that, too. He said "Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed" .

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Journal: Best of Slashdot -- code verification in real life

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

Yes, it works, but it's not easy
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Animats (122034) on Friday September 29, @11:50AM (#16249347)
(http://www.animats.com)

The main reason program verification didn't catch on was that it was hopeless for C and C++. The semantics of those languages were so messy that formalizing them was nearly hopeless.

Java and C#, however, are good enough. (So were Pascal, Modula, and Ada.)

Here's the manual for the Pascal-F verifier [animats.com], a system written by a team I headed back in the early 1980s. This was a proprietary system done internally for Ford Motor Company. Take a look at the example real time engine control program beginning on page 155. It was painfully slow back then; it took 45 minutes of VAX 11/780 time (1 MIPS) to verify that program from a cold start. Today, it would take about a second.

What's being proved in that example? First, that there are no subscripts out of range or arithmetic overflows. Second, that all loops terminate. (Yes, you can prove that for most useful programs; the halting problem applies only to pathological programs.) Third, that the following constraints hold:

        * fuelpumpon implies (tickssincespark (1000*ms)); if fuel pump is on, spark must occur within 1 sec.
        * (enginespeed rpm(1)) implies (not fuelpumpon); fuel pump must be disabled if the engine is not rotating
        * cylssincespark = 1; a spark must be issued for each cylinder pulse

Useful stuff, the conditions needed to keep the engine running.

This is "design by contract" with teeth. Each function is checked to insure that it always satisfies its exit conditions if its entry conditions are satisfied by the caller, and that the function doesn't overflow, subscript out of range, or fail to terminate. Each call is checked to insure that its entry conditions are always satisfied. The end result is a guarantee that those properties hold for the whole program.

This is a very valuable check. It insures that caller and callee are in agreement on how to call each function. That's the cause of a huge number of software bugs - the caller made some incorrect assumption about the function being called, or the function didn't check for something which it needed to check. Both of those can be statically machine checked.

It's not easy to get a program through formal verification with a verifier like that one. The verifier does almost all the work on easy sections of code, but where correctness depends on anything non-trivial, you have to work with the theorem prover to get the proofs through. This isn't easy. The DEC Java checker and Microsoft's Spec# checker aren't as hard-line.

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Journal: Best of Slashdot

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

Not sure how much I agree, but this guy has his grip sunk into at least part of the truth.

Re:For those lawyers out there
(Score:5, Insightful)
by Shihar (153932) on Monday September 25, @10:51PM (#16195925)
>So this is why 2 american presidential candidates were arrested trying to gain entry to the 2004 debates?

The green and Badnark got arrested for trespassing. You can get yourself arrested too without much trouble; that doesn't make this Soviet America. You can't even put the US and a solid half of the world nations on the same scale when it comes to political freedom. Suggesting that you can simply shows deep ignorance about the state of the rest of the world.

>oh please!.. the 2 reigning parties have essentially made it impossible for new parties to form.

I don't disagree in the slightest. You miss the larger point though which we shall get to in just a moment.

ross perot had 2 billion dollars at his disposal. Unless everyone else has that kind of money no.. the system does not work, and how dare you try to pretend otherwise

Ahh, now we are getting closer to the "problem" with American politics...

>And this is why the majority of americans dont vote.. they know it's essentially communist china here with a little potpurri on the grungier and more totalitarian aspects.

And this is where the point flies right over your head. The Americans could have made Ross Perot president if they wanted to. Nazi storm troopers didn't drag Perot off in handcuffs. No evil corporate death squads showed up to prevent people from voting. Americans just didn't vote for him. They could have and they didn't. End of story.

Ask yourself why Ross Perot did so well. To give you a little history, this man for a brief time actually was LEADING in the polls. He only started to get trounced after his somewhat defective personality was brought to light by his public appearances. Ross Perot almost won because of marketing. Don't get me wrong, he had a message too, but what made him different from the Greens and Libertarians that loose each year is that not only was his message centrist enough to appeal (lets face it, the Greens and the Libertarians are extremist), but he had enough money drive his message like a spike through every single American's head.

This is the heart and the root of the problem with American democracy. Americans are too fucking lazy to learn about politics. You need to practically beat the American public in voting. You need to blast the airwaves and the TVs. You need to shove your message down their throat and send out armies of volunteers. The problem isn't that the poor oppressed masses of Americans don't have an alternative. They do have an alternative; they just either don't know about it because they don't bother to look. Even when they do have the alternative (as was the case with Perot), they further fail to not just vote for the alternative, but the majority simply fail to vote. The Americans are not the poor oppressed people whose will have been broken as you make them out to be. They are just flat out lazy and/or stupid. America's lack of choice is American's fault. Pure and simple.

If Americans were not so complicate and easily swayed by corporate sponsored political marketing campaigns, corporations would have no power. If Americans spent 5 minutes on the Internet, found an alternative, then voted for the alternative, the democins and republicrats would be out within a week. The Gestapo isn't going to stop them from voting or rig the election. No one is going to be sent to the Gulag for failing to vote for one of the two established parties. If they simply voted differently, the established parties would vanish.

Any political failures in the American political system are not the fault of evil corporations and politicians. The blame lies completely and ONLY on the shoulders of the voting (and more importantly) non-voting public. The failures of our political system stem directly from a failure to exercise the political power that all Americans over the age of 18 have.

So can it with the inane talk of revolutions and evil corporations. If you think the system is so corrupt, do this one simple thing and you don't need to bother with the guns, the mass protests, and the riots to change the system. Simply get 25% of all the Americans who can vote to vote for one "alternative" candidate. They don't need to arm themselves. They don't need to quit work. They don't need to risk their life and liberty in a peaceful or violently struggle. They need to take just one fucking hour out of their day every 2 years and vote. You don't even need to achieve a majority. Since less then 50% of Americans vote, you actually only need 25% of the voting population to agree. In fact, you need even less if you can leech from people who currently vote democrat and republican.

If you can't accomplish the simple feat of getting a quarter of the population to vote differently, then the problem isn't in the corrupt political system. The problem is SQUARLY on the shoulders of the American people. We let this political system get built and we could sweep it out by simply spending 1 hour every 2 years voting.

So, excuse me while I laugh my ass off at the idea of an American revolution. If you can't even a quarter of the people to waste a messily hour voting for one alternative candidate, you are fucking delusional if you think you are going to get people to roll up their polo shirt sleeves and start a revolution.

The only thing wrong with the American democracy is that it relies on Americans to run it.

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Journal: Best of Slashdot

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

Re:Laptop?
(Score:5, Funny)
by OldManAndTheC++ (723450) Alter Relationship on Sunday September 24, @12:46AM (#16173087)

>they aren't designed to be used on laps or any other surface

Drat. Now I'll have to go shopping for a surface-less table. Perhaps "Klein Bottles-R-Us" has what I need...

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Journal: Best of Slashdot

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=196550&cid=16103988

Quote:

  by smilindog2000 (907665) on Thursday September 14, @07:01AM (#16103988)
(http://www.billrocks.org/)
We exported freedom during Bush Seniors term, and continued it through Clinton's term. The Berlin Wall fell during Bush Senior, and we ended the Cold War. Bloodless revolutions for freedom and democracy happened throughout the world.

This happened not because we rattled our sabers and conquered the oppressors. It happened because we made a shining example of what democracy can be, and because we convinced the world of our sincerity for a united world in peace. We earned the world's respect, and that made all the difference.

Bush Junior has destroyed all that. Now the world arms itself to defend against us. We are no longer trusted. We no longer exemplify freedom, democracy, and human rights. Hopefully the EU can continue the cause while we figure out how to fix our broken democracy. ...

User Journal

Journal: High points of "How Would a Patriot Act"

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

A constitutional lawyer named Glenn Greenwald wrote a book which explains the legal and constitutional issues behind some Bush Administration policies.

He used to be apolitical, I mean really apolitical, to the point of not even voting. Then, over the last five years, he's been jolted into action by "theories of unlimited Presidential power which are wholly alien, and antithetical, to the core political values that have governed this country since its founding" (from the preface).

He was living and working in Manhattan on September 11 and eagerly backed the first initiatives against the terrorists. But then, "What first began to shake my faith in the administration was its conduct in the case of Jose Padilla ... The administration claimed that they could hold him indefinitely without charging him with a crime and while denying him access to counsel". He still didn't lose faith until many more abuses piled up.

HISTORY

Congress has cooperated with open requests for surveillance powers. The Combatting Terrorism Act passed without hearings or debate, allowing the FBI to tap Internet communications for 48 hours without a warrant. Congess amended the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to give the executive branch more flexibility. That was part of USAPATRIOT, which many Congressmen voted for without reading it, trusting the administration to do the right thing in a national emergency. Bush said it was adequate: "This new law I sign today will allow surveillance of all communication used by terrorists". In the same month he ordered the NSA to begin violating the law by spying without even the minimal judicial oversight of the secret and pliable court that oversees FISA taps.

FISA, the 1978 act triggered by scandal after scandal, passed with Republican support including senators like Orrin Hatch. It worked throughout the Cold War, the first Gulf War, and many smaller conflicts. It has specific provisions for use in wartime which still require eventual judicial review.

THE ISSUE ABOUT WIRETAPPING

So why break the law? Greenwald points to the answer: "The only difference between obeying and violating FISA is that compliance with the law ensures that a court is aware of who is being eavesdropped on and how the eavesdropping is being conducted". In a March 2006 reply to Congressional questions the administration admitted that their purpose was to change who made the decisions about probable cause and to eliminate "layers" of review. Certainly the judges weren't getting in the way of normal or even questional eavesdropping: court intern Jonathan Turley said "I was shocked ... I was convinced that the judge would have signed anything that we put in front of him".

IS IT ABOUT MAKING US SAFER?

Yaser Esam Hamdi was a US citizen when he was thrown into solitary confinement for two years without being told what he was accused of. It could have been for life, given the likely duration of the "war on terror". The Supreme Court eventually gave the administration a put-up-or-shut-up order, with even Scalia chiming in with "The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite detention at the will of the Executive". So what was done with this man who was allegedly too dangerous to be allowed to see a lawyer? He was released without charge and sent to Saudi Arabia.

Torture isn't making us safer either. Former CIA officer Bob Baer told reporters it's "bad interrogation, I mean you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough". Torture is where the "evidence" against Jose Padilla came from.

PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY

Is the President above the law? His legal adviser John Yoo says so. He told New Yorker report Jane Mayer that Congress "can't prevent the President from ordering torture".

The legal theorists who are defining what a Commander in Chief can do have set forth theories that recognize no limits at all. That's correct, unlimited power. That even includes using awesome war powers against US citizens on US soil.

IS THIS A LIBERAL THING?

It was Reagan's deputy Attorney General, Bruce Fein, who wrote for the Washington Times (December 28 2005) "Congress should insist the President cease the spying unless or until a proper statute is enacted or face impeachment".

Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee wanted to hold an investigation until pressured into changing their votes.

Republican James Sensenbrenner said "I think that ... is stonewalling".

BUT AREN'T WE IN DANGER NOW? ISN'T THIS PRE-9/11 THINKING?

We were in danger in 1789 when the mightiest nation on earth was our enemy. The Founders still put together a constitution in which the President doesn't get to interpret, or worse yet violate, the law.

Imprisoning people without charge, counsel, or opportunity to defend themselves is pre-Magna Carta thinking.

Greenwald puts into perspective the fear that the administration promotes by saying "one can protect against the threat of terrorism with courage, calm, and resolve".
 

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Journal: Best of Slashdot

Journal by Beryllium Sphere(tm)

The insight
"Beating your competition is the side effect that you derive from pleasing customers. It is not the goal."
appears in Harmonious Botch's post http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=195164&cid=15992079

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain

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