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Comment: Re:giant machines are US culture, and world cultur (Score 1) 78 78

Sometimes reporting, or history, distorts the focus or some aspect of an event. For instance most of us were led to believe that Sputnik was an effort of a cold-war space-race instead of being part of an international geophysical year. (analysis of how the U.S. and others perceived it and what response followed is another matter)

Hehe, bad choice of examples. Yes, Sputnik was launched during an IGY year of "cooperation"... but that doesn't mean it wasn't a cold war space race from the beginning. The USSR announced their intention to launch an artificial satellite nine days after the US announced the same intention. Then the USSR went forward with designing the satellite, only to discover that their original planned machine was going to take too long. Afraid that the US might beat them to it, they stepped back and focused on a simpler design so they could get it into space faster, and beat the US. As soon as their launch vehicle was good to go, they launched, pushing back some planned military test launches to do it.

Comment: Re:This is shortsighted (Score 2) 18 18

... and plenty of the crawling robots also ended up falling over.

But why no love for the videos of robots failing and falling? There are plenty of videos of legged robots not falling, and they are positively terrifying for the humans vs. robots crowd:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Comment: Re:Living Wage is mandated for, and desired by idi (Score 1) 52 52

The last Uber driver I had, was also a comedian/writer (Los Angeles). He didn't need a living wage, he wanted a part time job with a ton of flexibility to supplement income.

Makes perfect sense to me. There are lots of people whose lifestyles don't permit a regular job, but could use a flexible income supplement.

The next time someone says "that doesn't make a living wage" the correct response is to punch them in the mouth.

That's a rather violent, not to mention criminal, response. I think not.

Comment: Re:Passwords are not the only way to authenticate (Score 1) 76 76

First, my comment was not a "defense" of anything.

Second, you seem to have missed the sentence "It's not quite as good if the smartphone is also providing the fingerprint scanner and camera, because in the event of an attempted fraudulent transaction that means the attacker is in control of those components."

Also, you seem to have missed the last paragraph. In fairness, I suppose I wasn't quite clear enough. When I said that the security is in the same ballpark as a four-digit PIN, I was comparing to a system using phone-mounted sensors. With sensors provided by the retailer, in a staffed checkout lane, it's unambiguously stronger.

Comment: Re:Presumably you've never been shot at (Score 1) 309 309

You seem to acknowledge that the good guy with a gun, most likely, cannot kill or fully disable the shooter in this situation.

zerofoo said nothing of the sort. He said that killing or fully disabling the shooter isn't necessary, not that it's not possible, or even unlikely.

The history of mass shooting violence in the US bears out both zerofoo's point that killing or disabling the shooter often isn't necessary, since mass shooters tend to suicide as soon as they meet armed resistance, and even those who don't are clearly going to have to shift their focus from mass murder to self-defense or be an easy target. There are plenty of cases in which shooters have been killed, disabled or otherwise stopped by citizens, though they tend to get less press for the simple reason that fewer people die.

So now you have to calculate, how many people could potentially be saved in that scenario, versus how many people would be killed if handguns are more widespread. If 5% of the populace is armed now, what happens to the death by gun rates when its 10%, 20%, 75%, 100%?

Interestingly, the US has conducted this experiment over the last 40 years or so, as the number of concealed carry permit holders went from basically zero to up to 15% in some areas of the country. What happened? Not much. Violence declined, and there is some weak statistical evidence that it declined faster in areas where more people began carrying guns on a daily basis. There is no evidence that violence increased.

Will the number of random shootings go down by allowing anyone, including the mentally ill, to have easier access to guns without waiting periods?

I suspect it won't change at all. What would reduce the number of shootings is removing all of the guns, but that is impossible.

P.S. Several school shootings (like Columbine) have taken place at schools with an armed police presence.

This is something of an unrelated point, but I think it's worth noting that police did not respond quickly at Columbine High School, and that the experience dramatically changed police doctrine for responding to active shooters, across the nation. After-action analyses showed that as soon as the shooters faced aggressive armed response, they killed themselves, but that happened many minutes, and several deaths, later than it could have. At the time standard procedure was to cordon the area, isolate the shooters and wait for enough backup to arrive -- preferably SWAT -- that the police could enter in overwhelming force. But Columbine changed that, and most police departments now train their officers that if they have good reason to believe it's a lone shooter then the very first officers on the scene should enter immediately.

Immediate entry, without overwhelming force or special weapons, seems like it significantly increases the risk to the officers, but in practice it doesn't, much. And, of course, waiting tends to give shooters time and space to rack up massive body counts.

Comment: Re:Been standing for years... (Score 1) 248 248

It takes a couple weeks to get used to standing. Stick with it.

Or just change positions several times per day. I stand until I'm tired of it then sit for 30 minutes, repeat. I set a timer for the sitting periods, otherwise I find that when I'm focused on something I forget to stand up again. I've thought about hacking and arduino into the controls on my desk and automating that, so that after 30 minutes my desk automatically returns to the standing position, but haven't gotten around to it.

I have a motorized desk from VersaTables. Nice desk and the company was great to work with. Not cheap, though, not at all.

+ - Some consumers habitually pick losers

AmiMoJo writes: If you’re still crying into your pillow at night over the demise of the Zune MP3 player or Crystal Pepsi, take a long, hard look into the mirror: Your shopping habits might have foretold the doom of your favourite, discontinued products. At least, according to a group of researchers pointing the finger at certain early adopters. In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified particular kinds of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will flop, calling those folks “harbingers of failure.” “Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful. Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 1164 1164

That bears repeating with regards to Germany's debts: What happened after WWI was the winning countries said "You have to pay us back for all the costs of the war." Never mind any of the other problems, something like that was totally unsustainable. Germany was being made to pay the (often inflated) costs incurred by other countries in the war. That was devastating economically. Forgiving that is really a no brainer as it should not have happened int eh first place.

Also let's not forget the other part of the post war issues: Germany got occupied and told what was what (same with Japan). It isn't like this was a negotiation where they said "Can you forgive some of our debt?" and the allies said "Oh ok." No, they surrendered, unconditionally, and the country was occupied and split. On the East side it was straight out annexed and made part of the USSR, and on the West side there was heavy allied military presence and participation in running the country.

I mean I guess if Greece wants the same, they want someone else to come in and take over their country and dictate how things are going to be for years, or decades, then ok. However seems a little silly to say you want the kind of financial consideration that happened in wartime, but none of the rest of what came with it.

Comment: Plenty of differences (Score 5, Informative) 1164 1164

A big one is just that the US controls both its currency and its monetary policy (meaning taxing and spending). That manes that it can take the steps it feels necessary to deal with loan repayments, such as increased inflation and/or a weaker currency. It doesn't have to convince other countries of it, it runs the currency.

An even bigger one at this point is that the dollar is the world's reserve currency. Things are settled in dollars on the international stage, meaning that the US can't have a current account crisis. It makes the dollars, things are paid for in dollars, so it can make more dollars to pay for things. It is unique in that situation. While it could change, that is how it stands.

In fact, that is part of the reason the US is able to borrow so much, and in some ways needs to. People and nations want to put their money in what they see as a safe reserve, and the dollar is one they seek. To make that possible, the US has to issue debt instruments. They have to be able to buy US dollars.

Yet another difference is that the US has high tax compliance. Most people in the US pay their taxes. There are those that cheat or outright evade, but they are the minority. That, combined with a generally quite low tax burden (compared to most first world nations the US has very low taxes), means that raising taxes in the US is a very valid strategy. People won't be happy, but they'll pay. Greece has real issues with tax avoidance which makes tax increases problematic.

Still another difference is in what the economy produces. Despite what you may have heard on whiny online sites, the US makes a lot of stuff. It is the #2 producer of durable goods after China, and only slightly. It builds lots of things that others in the world want. A good example would be microprocessors. Both Intel and AMD are US companies, and Intel fabs most of their newest CPUs in the US. The chips that run most computers in the world come from the US. Makes the economic situation rather different than a place that relies heavily on tourism.

Finally there's the issue of who owns the debt. Most of the US's debt, about 65%, is owned by the US itself. Of that a large part is intragovernmental holdings, and then debt held by the federal reserve. Of the nations that do hold US foreign debt the two largest, Japan and China, do so for strategic reasons to keep their currency cheap compared to the dollar and thus have a strategic interest in keeping that debt. Greece on the other hand, owes most of its debt to other countries.

It is far to simplistic to look and say "Oh this is all the same!" Public debt is actually a pretty complex issue.

Comment: Re:slashdot (Score 1) 145 145

I am generally anti-Apple and think Steve Jobs was a massive cock, but I still think that's true. Look at how ineffectual Apple is without him.

Perhaps, but I just don't agree that "but he made a lot of money" excuses cruelty or nastiness. We didn't and still don't need Apple.

It's often criticized, and over the last few conversations on the subject I'd say that the tone on slashdot has been more muted, with less support for his level of abuse. On the other hand, when has Linus gone off on someone who hadn't definitely earned a less-than-polite brush-off?

That's great, but for many years every nasty, unprofessional, over-the-top tantrum he's thrown has been received overwhelmingly glowingly by the slashdot commentariat. I think it's probably the best instance of what I'm talking about, this idea of noticing your own flaws on a successful person and trying to explain those flaws as virtues that explain the success.

Where are those people now? We haven't heard from them basically since... well, you know. Since their argument got taken away..

They were defending him after the guilty verdict. Even after he led police to the body, there were some people on slashdot seriously trying to come up with explanations how he could know where the body was but not have killed her. And, of course, loudly insisting that even if he did kill her there was reasonable doubt during the trial (which there absolutely was not). The defenses tended to be "he's just a geek, he's being persecuted for being uncomfortable with people like me!"

He was in a position of awesome responsibility and performed his job duties to the best of his ability. That's a fairly useless level of integrity in my opinion, but yeah, a very high level as well. He was only arrested after actually having made arrangements to hand over the passwords, as well.

The problem is he did not do his job; he created a new job in his head and did that one. And any administrator who sets himself up as the sole accessor of mission-critical hardware is doing a poor job per se. But in any event, the response here was over-the-top support

Oh no, he's both. He's an easy target, but still a target.

But around here any criticisms of his personality are frequently met with insinuations that it's just the US trying to destroy him. I really don't see the big deal in dropping charges, raising them again, etc.. It's actually not uncommon in criminal prosecutions at least in the US, as decision-making authority moves from police to prosecutors to maybe a higher level prosecutor.

+ - China's Unsettling Stock Market Collapse->

schwit1 writes: The Shanghai index is firmly in bear market territory, down 28.6% since the June peak, while the tech-heavy Shenzhen Composite has fallen 33.2%.

There were also signs on Friday that the stock market turmoil is beginning to reverberate beyond China. The Australian dollar, often traded as a proxy for China growth, is down 1.2% to a six-year low of US$0.7539. The 21st Century Business Herald, a Chinese daily newspaper, on Friday quoted multiple futures traders as saying they had received phone calls from the China Financial Futures Exchange instructing them not to short the market.

China's financial titans are attempting to set up a "market stabilization fund." This doesn't sound good.

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Low-tech for a reason (Score 1) 146 146

Part of the reason that some of us take pride in our low-tech solutions is because we can achieve results above and beyond that of others even if we don't have any resources.

There's that, of course. But I think a very significant part of doing things by hand, with simple means, is that you enjoy the actual process, being able to apply your skills and achieve something that isn't trivially easy, but requires insight into what you are doing.

Years ago I worked for an American company, and I got to talk to one of the vice-presidents about fishing. To me fishing is something about trying to land a single fish or maybe two with a bit of cleverness and local knowledge, but to him it consisted in owning a 60 foot vessel on one of the big lakes, equipped with sonar, trawl etc etc. Or take bread making - you can probably make a good bread in one of these automatic breadmakers, but I can't imagine why I would want to skip the most enjoyable part of it.

Comment: Re:Huh (Score 2) 265 265

Then, of coruse, every crime becomes a life sentence, even those undertaken while say still a hormone addled teenager.

Doesn't seem very just to me.

Sadly, justice as defined by the law is not necessarily just in a moral sense; it only means that it follows the law as currently practiced. What is too often lacking is the reality of full restitution - that you can be forgiven your past sins. I think it is fundamentally important that criminal justice happens in public, so that people can see that crimes are properly and consistently prosecuted, and the punishments are neither too harsh nor too lenient.

As for things becoming a life sentence - whether it is fair or not, what is done stays done, we can't change the past. In the more serious cases this reflects the fact that lasting damage has been done to a victim; and even if the may seem trivial, the victim is likely to feel significant distress that goes far beyond the objective loss suffered. I've been on the receiving end of petty crime several times, and although I am usually a very robust person, you can't help feeling violated and upset; and it doesn't help knowing that whereas you have lost a valued possession with memories attached, the thief is going to flog it for next to nothing. So, is it really always so unfair that you can't shake off the consequences of your actions?

Apart from that, in many countries you do in fact get rid of your past as far as the justice system is concerned; in UK, for example, many sentences will be 'spent' after a number of years, in the sense that they no longer occur on your criminal record, and you are no longer barred from things like applying for citizenship. It may not mean that there are no longer people who will remember that you were the one who did the crime, but then it is up to you to go and amend your relationships.

Comment: Re:HOME ownership is key (Score 1) 636 636

You have to be able to float that much money to wait for the rebate, correct?

Not if you lease. If you lease, it's the lessor that gets the rebate, so when they calculate the financing they just take it off the top. The federal credit, anyway. This is one of several reasons why more EVs are leased than purchased.

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