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Comment: Re:bit heavy on the fud (Score 3, Interesting) 274

by marcopo (#46225359) Attached to: The Death Cap Mushroom Is Spreading Across the US
Indicators and rules of thumb are a good start. However these are also very regional. There were cases of Russians who moved to north america and are mushrooms that would be safe back in Russia (based on guides such as A+B implies safe to eat).

As noted, to be safe you really want a definitive identification. In extreme cases this requires a spore print and microscope. On the other side, in many cases you narrow it down to either a good mushroom, or one that gives some people indigestion but that's it, and then you may just take the risk and taste it.

Foraging can be very enjoyable, and is not restricted to mushrooms, nor does it require living through a depression or the cultural revolution or any such crisis. However, it is very culture dependent, and many in north america there is a tendency to treat all unknown food as dangerous. A friend told me she was eating some wild berries in a local park with her son. A family came by, saw them eating and their boy said he wanted some too, to which the parents replied with a "No! these are poisonous."

Comment: General answer (Score 1) 365

by marcopo (#45903331) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many (Electronics) Gates Is That Software Algorithm?
That depends a whole lot on what kind of hardware you want to use. One way is to implement a universal Turing machine, and give it the code as input. Those can be quite small, and you don't even need access to the algorithm to find the answer.
You're probably looking for a more efficient implementation.

7 of the Best Free Linux Calculators 289

Posted by timothy
from the open-in-tabs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "One of the basic utilities supplied with any operating system is a desktop calculator. These are often simple utilities that are perfectly adequate for basic use. They typically include trigonometric functions, logarithms, factorials, parentheses and a memory function. However, the calculators featured in this article are significantly more sophisticated with the ability to process difficult mathematical functions, to plot graphs in 2D and 3D, and much more. Occasionally, the calculator tool provided with an operating system did not engender any confidence. The classic example being the calculator shipped with Windows 3.1 which could not even reliably subtract two numbers. Rest assured, the calculators listed below are of precision quality."

Comment: Re:This is how it always starts.... (Score 1) 557

by marcopo (#27767625) Attached to: WHO Raises Swine Flu Threat Level

Well, the pigs who developed this were hardly like this picture.

Animals raised in unsanitary, dense conditions, in an industrial manner are a fertile breeding ground for diseases. Once in a while one shows up that can infect humans, and some of those can be transmitted between humans. Patient -1, the pigs, are no longer needed.

Just one more of the environmental costs of industrialized meat production.

Comment: Re:Government should not be a competitor to indust (Score 1) 621

by marcopo (#27705789) Attached to: Time Warner Cable Won't Compete, Seeks Legislation

You say government to go into "profit based business", but what is a profit based business? What isn't? Any social interaction can be the basis for commercial exploitation. Profit can be made from education, health care, local level police (private security), national security (private militias), utilities, etc. Who is to decide what should be a "profit based business"? If a private organization offered protection (read, retribution) from criminals, and made good profit out of that (and assume said organization obeyed the law), should government shut down the police to avoid competing?

The problem with free markets is that even when they work, they find a solution that is optimal in some ways, but that may be quite far from the best solution for society as a whole.

A privatized water company in south america will set its prices to optimize its profits. If the resulting prices mean 5% of the population cannot afford clean drinking water, so be it. The cost is not high because it must be, but because that is the free market solution. The social costs of high water prices are external.

Similarly, a private communication company in the US will set prices to optimize profits. Society may benefit from wide spread connectivity, but the company does not, so that will not affect prices.

In summary, competition of government with private sector is not the main issue. The issue is which services should be private and which public. In the interface, there may well be some areas where private and public coexist (education?) Publicly run services can be as corrupt as private corporations, and are generally less efficient, (but do not add a profit margin to the overall cost).

Of course, such decisions have far reaching long term effects that are frequently ignored. see e.g. the US jail industries massive lobbying for longer jail sentences, and the resulting incarceration rates.

Comment: Re:Utter BS (Score 1) 621

by marcopo (#27705191) Attached to: Time Warner Cable Won't Compete, Seeks Legislation

In essence, what the bill is saying is that a govt provided internet service should be self-sufficient, unsubsidized and be applicable to all costs and taxes that a private organization is. It is not trying to establish a monoply but instead trying to take the unfair advantage away from a govt sponsored organization.

What unfair advantage? private corporations can and do invest money to develop a market. Initially money is lost, but eventually it may become profitable. Why is such behaviour unfair?

Moreover, government services are rarely self sufficient if you account only for payments directly for the service. To draw a better parallel, one must consider the taxes as government income, since this are the payments citizens make for the services. If taxes are included in the balance sheet of such a venture, it is quite easy to make it self sufficient and unsubsidized.

Of course, the intent of the bill is that tax money cannot be spent on communication services, which amounts to the same thing as preventing government from offering such a service.

Comment: tax burden (Score 1) 913

by marcopo (#27642479) Attached to: To the extent there are taxes, I mostly favor ...
Tax burden is a rather vague notion that is used in a misleading way. Usually people who use it measure the "burden" in dollars. However, the actual burden of paying a dollar decreases with wealth. Above a certain level the effect of tax is only on the amount of money left over. For less wealthy people, fewer dollars mean (in rough order) less luxury, less vacations and travel, restricted educational choices, fewer consumer goods, reduced health care spending, and less health coverage, leading to worse health, a less diverse and frequently less healthy diet, and at the extreme to lack of housing.

Is the actual burden of taking even 60% from a person making $10^6 really greater than the burden of taking $1000 from someone making $20K?

Comment: Possible solution? (Score 2, Insightful) 300

by marcopo (#26269357) Attached to: CCC Create a Rogue CA Certificate

I'm not familiar with the details of certificate use, but as far as the cryptologic component there seems to be a reasonable fix, that will not require any change from end-users or invalidate existing certificates (apart from changing the hash).

The attack is based on finding a hash collision between certificates A and B, having the CA signing A, and using the signature for B. If the CA were to make a small change to A before signing it the attack would be foiled, since it requires active participation from the CA.

Suppose the CA started to add a few random bits to each certificate before signing it. The applicant is told what these bits are, so that they can use the signed (modified) certificate to verify themselves to users. With just a few extra bits this would make the attack unfeasible. Does this make sense?


+ - Actual Zombies in North-Eastern Cambodia.-> 3

Submitted by
Talon705 writes "A new strain of Malaria carried by mosquitoes in North-Eastern Cambodia has a 100% mortality rate. It kills within 2 days and then restarts the heart for about two hours, during which the infected act rather violently from a combination of brain damage and chemicals released in the brain during reanimation.

My thoughts: Holy freakin' piss! At least no one has said anything about the disease being transmitted through the infected ... just from those freakin' mosquitoes...."

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It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire