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Comment: Re:So much unnecessary trouble (Score 1) 570

by shutdown -p now (#47575489) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

I am a little disturbed, by the way, that you think that the terrorist organization that the Strelkov is running is not getting enough support.

Uh... I do not support the present Russian politics at all (even though I am a citizen). What I'm saying is that the separatists themselves - and many Russians - believe that they are not getting enough support from Russia, and blaming that on "traitors". "Enough support" here generally equates to moving the troops in openly.

I'm certainly not relishing the thought of an all-out military conflict between Russia and the West, either.

Comment: Re:So much unnecessary trouble (Score 1) 570

by shutdown -p now (#47572255) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

What makes you believe that it's Putin that's playing for that side, and not the other way around?

One thing that I'm actually seriously afraid of is that Putin will use the separatists to stage a coup inside the country. Consider this: right now, it seems clear that without outside intervention, rebels are doomed - Ukrainian forces grind them down slowly but surely, even despite the heavy losses. They know it full well, and they have been demanding help from Russian government since the declaration of independence - and then complaining that what they get is still not enough (which is true). Some of the lower-level commanders and rank and file have already been calling Putin a traitor on record. But never the top brass, like Strelkov. In fact, Strelkov is pretty much always very deferential to Putin, and called him "supreme commander" on occasion.

Now, imagine what happens when the last stronghold is overrun. The remaining forces - doubtlessly, the most loyal and battle-hardened of Strelkov's troops - will try to retreat across the border into Russia. If, by some "miracle", they are allowed to pass safely through, what do we have? A charismatic leader, widely popular in Russia itself, with a clout of an almost-martyr for the cause that most people root for, valiantly and losing the battle only because of "traitors" - even if he's not pointing any fingers at them (just makes him that much more noble, hey!). And several thousand armed loyal troops at his command. Now, what if Putin declares that the only reason why he was not able to order a direct intervention and turn the tide is because of all the traitors in the government, and that he needs help purging them? Strelkov then turns the entire Dolchstosslegende around and says that, yes, the people who were complaining about treason were right all along, but Putin was not the traitor, the traitors were the one who bound him and prevented him from acting - and marches straight onto the Kremlin. No-one would stop him; heck, I know for sure that a lot of people would cheer, and most police and military units would just step aside if not join outright. Once he arrives, we have a bloody but brief purge, with some bodies displayed for the amusement of the crowd, and Putin is now officially a dictator for life, Defender of Holy Rus or whatever titles they decide to bestow on him, with his own personal loyal guard to protect him.

Comment: The root of the problem is culture & social cl (Score 3, Interesting) 448

by Theovon (#47569505) Attached to: Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

For some reason, Americans have developed a stereotype of "white" and "black" that is related far more to social class than anything else. When you say "white," we imagine someone from the middle class. When you say "black," we imagine someone from lower socioeconomic status. How many blacks are in the middle class, I'm not sure, but as for whites in lower classes, we have them coming out our ears. While we may have millions of blacks who live in ghettos, we have 10 times as many whites living in trailor parks.

Because of our confusion between ethnicity and social class, we end up with things like Dave Chappelle's "Racial Draft":
While amusing, it highlights the real problem, and this false stereotype is widespread throughout American culture.

I recall an interview with Bill Cosby, talking about educational advancement among black children. Peers discourage each other from studying because it's "acting white." When in fact it is "acting middle class," because this same kind of discouragement occurs among lower class whites as well. As long as education is not valued within any group, that group will have difficulty being equally represented in white collar industries.

What we have to work out to explain the disparity between population demographics and white collar job demographics is the proportions of the underrepresented groups who discourage education. People like Jesse Jackson want to make this all out to be the result of prejudice on the basis of genetics or skin color. Honestly, I think we're long past that. There are still plenty of racist bastards out there, but in general, we do not have pink people acting intentionally or unconsciously to undermine the advancement of brown people when it comes to getting college degrees.

It's not PC to talk about genetic differences, but genetics is interesting. Geneticists have identified differences between different ethnic groups, and they have correlated them with some minor differences in physical and cognitive adaptations. Things like muscle tone, susceptibility to certain diseases, social ability, and other things have been correlated to a limited degree with variation in human DNA. But the average differences between genetic groups are miniscule compared to their overlap (statistically, we have very small mu / sigma for basically any meaningful measurable characteristic).

Thus I can only conclude that correcting any disparities must come from within. Regulating businesses won't do any good, because unqualified minorities will end up getting unfairly hired and promoted. We have to start with the children and get them to develop an interest in science and math. If Jesse Jackson wants to fix this problem, he need to learn science and math and start teaching it. I assure you, even at his age, he has that capability, if he just cared enough to do it. Unfortunately for him, if he were to corrupt himself with this knowledge, he would find himself taking a wholly different approach than the "we're victims" schtick he's played most of his life. Personally, I prefer the "the universe is awesome" philosophy held by Neil deGrasse Tyson. He's one of my biggest heroes, having nothing to do with his skin tone.

One last though: I'm sure someone will find something racist in what I have said. Either that or I'm being too anti-racist and appear like I'm overcompensating. There are also aspects of these social issues I know nothing about. I'm just writing a comment on Slashdot that is about as well-informed as any other comment. One thing people should think about in general is whether or not they have hidden prejudices. It's not their fault, having been brought up in a culture that takes certain thing for granted. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, we should be willing to admit that we probably do have subconscious prejudices. That's okay, as long as we consciously behave in a way that is fair to other human beings, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, autism, or any other thing they didn't choose to be born with (and plenty of things they have chosen, because it's people's right to choose).

Comment: Re:So much unnecessary trouble (Score 1) 570

by shutdown -p now (#47567175) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

Yes, Ukrainians do in fact have a special place in that model - they are considered "Russians who forgot/rejected their roots" (ditto Belarusians).

At the same time, you're also correct that the current conflict raised the hostility between two nations to a level that was never seen before, and it is also felt in Russia. The rhetoric was updated accordingly: now Ukrainians are deemed to consist of two parts - the larger one that is the unconsciously subjugated Russian-at-heart majority that can be rehabilitated (by force of arms if necessary), and the minority of hardcore "true Ukrainians" who do the subjugation, and for whom hating Russia is in their very nature. The latter are generally associated with Galicia (many people have suddenly discovered that those lands have not been in Russia, or any state that Russia claims succession to, for over 700 years before the 20th century - and therefore decided that reclassifying the inhabitants as inherently hostile is alright after all).

Thing is, I don't think the people who run the country believe in all this crap. They peddle it to the population because it's an easy sell and meshes well with their policies.

Comment: Re:Why not Audi? (Score 1) 296

Or Honda for that matter. My Acura does this too. However calling the infotainment center something primarily intended for ripping music is bullshit. It does all sorts of other things including acting as a Sat Nav, cell phone interface AM/FM receiver, amp for the umpteen speakers, digital media playback controller for USB/iPod/IPhone and lots more. It's probably the least used feature of this system.

Not only that but $2500 is really piling on the bullshit. I bought a ripping device from TEAC several years ago that cost me less than $100. My guess is that the licence on this must have been $5 or so.

Criminy somebody needs to slap these guys down. HARD.

Comment: Re:So! The game is rigged! (Score 1) 547

by shutdown -p now (#47563479) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

You might need to apply for a crappy card at first if you really have NO history

Getting a credit card with no history whatsoever might be tricky unless you're really young. But even in that case, pretty much any bank will happily give you a credit card if you place a security deposit with them (the credit limit will then be tied to the amount of said deposit). That still counts as credit and lets you build up credit score - and eventually they will release the deposit. I had to resort to that when I moved into US from another country - given my age and employment, combined with the complete and utter lack of any credit score records whatsoever, that's the only arrangement that I could find. I got my security deposit back on the second year of using the card, and started getting more card offers from other banks at about the same time, which I assume coincides with crossing some threshold on the credit score.

Comment: Re:So much unnecessary trouble (Score 1) 570

by shutdown -p now (#47561389) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

They already have to include non-Slavs, though. Remember that Russia is like 10-15% Muslim (depending on who you ask), and most of these are non-Slavs. Then of course you have a bunch of other guys like Yakuts or Buryats.

The overarching ideology is actually Eurasianism; Russians are seen as the "core nation" in that model, the one that binds everyone else together around it. Not dissimilar to how Stalin described USSR after WW2.

Comment: Re:Radicalization (Score 1) 829

by Ash Vince (#47559979) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

Everyone can say whatever they want, but this much is worth repeating: If Hamas, etc., disarmed, there would be peace. If Israel disarmed, they would be utterly destroyed.

What utter crap. Who would destroy them?

Egypt is now a puppet state of the US, that is why the army threw the Muslim brotherhood out of power. Syria is too fucked to have a go at anyone, and most other countries nearby like Jordan would not want to do anything to upset the US. The only country that would consider attacking Israel now is Iran and they do not actually have a border with them.

The only people who still have a grievance with Israel are Gaza and Palestine, and they would never be in a position to use military force to take Israel back for the Arabs. The truth is that the only problem with Israel giving up its huge armed forces that the US subsidises is that they would have to stop expanding.

Comment: Re:Weakest Russia ever (Score 1) 570

by shutdown -p now (#47559835) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

You still missed the point, sorry :)

What I was saying is that your premise - "if he crashes the economy his country is no longer a threat to the world" - is incorrect. For one thing, it's always tempting to "fix" the crashed economy by going to war. But even if it doesn't actually fix it, it can be that last "okay, if we're going down, you're going down with us" sort of gesture. Yes, a country with a ruined economy won't be able to wage a protracted war, but it doesn't need to do so to make others hurt, and the bombs and the missiles won't magically disappear. Nor will the manpower - and said manpower is only going to be more desperate and therefore (with the right coaching) more angry.

Now, as to why I believe that such a war would work to bolster inner popularity. The trick, of course, is to present it in such a manner that the war is declared on you. Russian TV has already been quite successful at spinning things that way about Ukraine - a recent poll showed that 94% of Russians get their news primarily from TV channels (all of which are now state-run or indirectly state-controlled), and 75% believe that its coverage is truthful and objective. Only 25% believe that "propaganda" is an apt description for what they're seeing.

So, really, all Putin needs to do to escalate to war is to keep provoking the West, and then blowing up any responses as something big. And heck, there are tried and proven methods to get a decent casus belli when the time comes - see Mainila incident for an example. After all the crazy conspiracy theories that are eagerly accepted for granted in Russia (by the population, not by politicians!) just to be able to preserve the "we are the good guys" mentality... something like that would be swallowed very easily.

And yes, the "patriotic" fervor in Russia today is such that, with the right sugar-coating, the population will happily swallow the war pill. If they are explained that all economic woes are due to Western shenanigans (and the occasional spy/saboteur - for the sake of some public circus).

Hell, they are already clamoring for war, seemingly more so than the government itself. Did you see #PutinVvediVoiska ("Putin, move the armed forces in!" [to Ukraine]) Twitter hashtag? It's only growing in popularity as more sanctions come in. Then there's another thing where people are mocking the sanctions themselves - that is also going pretty strong.

Comment: Re:Hilarious (Score 3, Insightful) 158

Property Rights? Trespass to Chattels? No abuse of state powers for private gain? How easily the mask slips when a few cold pounds are involved.

But the people I feel really sorry for are the victims of crime in London, whose cases go unsolved due to precious police resources being wasted on internet nonsense like this.

Comment: No, it isn't and they don't (Score 1) 161

by jd (#47556521) Attached to: OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

The Internet is not powered by experiments on humans. Not even in the DARPA days.

No, websites do NOT experiment on users. Users may experiment on websites, if there's customization, but the rules for good design have not changed either in the past 30 years or the past 3,000. And, to judge from how humans organized carvings and paintings, not the past 30,000 either.

To say that websites experiment on people is tripe. Mouldy tripe. Websites may offer experimental views, surveys on what works, log analysis, etc, but these are statistical experiments on depersonalized aggregate data. Not people.

Experiments on people, especially without consent, is vulgar and wrong. It also doesn't help the website, because knowing what happens doesn't tell you why. Early experiments in AI are littered with extraordinarily bad results for this reason. Assuming you know why, assuming you can casually sketch in the cause merely by knowing one specific effect, is insanity.

Look, I will spell it out to these guys. Stop playing Sherlock Holmes, you only end up looking like Lestrade. Sir Conan Doyle's fictional hero used recursive subdivision, a technique Real Geeks use all the time for everything from decision trees to searching lists. Isolating single factors isn't subdivision because there isn't a single ordered space to subdivide. Scientists mask, yes, but only when dealing with single ordered spaces, and only AFTER producing a hypothesis. And if it involves research on humans, also after filling out a bloody great load of paperwork.

I flat-out refuse to use any website tainted with such puerile nonsense, insofar as I know it to have occurred. No matter how valuable that site may have been, it cannot remain valuable if it is driven by pseudoscience. There's also the matter of respect. If you don't respect me, why should I store any data with you? I can probably do better than most sites out there over a coffee break, so what's in it for me? What's so valuable that I should tolerate being second-class? It had better be damn good.

I'll take a temporary hit on what I can do, if it safeguards my absolute, unconditional control over my virtual persona. And temporary is all it would ever be. There's very little that's truly exclusive and even less that's exclusive and interesting.

The same is true of all users. We don't need any specific website, websites need us. We dictate our own limits, we dictate what safeguards are minimal, we dictate how far a site owner can go. Websites serve their users. They exist only to serve. And unlike with a certain elite class in the Dune series, that's actually true and enforceable.

You will lose an important disk file.