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Comment: Re:And of course ... (Score 1) 240 240

What makes you think that owning a physical object is "a natural property of the physical world"?

Owning a physical object isn't like gravity, mass, or distance. 'Ownership' isn't something that exists 'out there', enforced by the physical world. The physical world doesn't know or care about your relation to items you consider your property.

What does this scenario suggest:

Suppose that you own a piece of land. That is, you consider that physical object, the parcel of land, to be your property. Now suppose that someone else shares a similar view. Namely, they also consider that land to be their property. How is this conflict resolved? How do we determine the real owner of the property?

Well, we don't consult the physical world. The natural properties of the physical world have nothing to tell us about any ownership claim on the property. Typically, in the modern industrial world, the the validity of the ownership claims are adjudicated by a court of the land.

Now suppose that (after a trial that follows the laws of the land fairly) the court decides in favor of the other claimant; The court rules that you are not the owner of the land, the other person is. Do you still own this land? If you disagree (and exhaust all appeals without success) and remain on the land, because, in your mind, this is really your land, what will happen next? Will you be able to keep this property which you know is yours? And after the government branch (the court) assigns the police or another governmental agency to evict you from the land, and you are now elsewhere because you have been forcefully removed from your land by the government, is this land still your property? Or is it now the property of the other claimant, who is living on the land with the full support of the government, and perhaps thanks to the assistance of governmental force?

The 'ownership' of this physical object appears to be a social convention, perhaps not all that different from the social convention we live by that says that the government issued piece of paper that has a five dollar bill printed on can be traded for five times the value of a similar piece of paper that has a one dollar bill printed on it. As others in this thread have said, the notion of property appears to be a construct that we live by. Some perhaps unknowingly. More than that, it is a government regulated and enforced construct. One might even say that it is a 'monopoly' of sorts - the government has granted you sole ownership of the property, to do with it as you see fit. And if that ownership is contested or violated, the government will lend you its bodies of force in order to enforce your ownership claim.

It could be disputed that calling this kind of property ownership a 'monopoly' is not accurate - that 'monopoly' typically refers to a 'supplier' of 'commodities' rather than an 'owner' of 'property'. Investigating those ideas further would no doubt provide further insight into the similarities and differences between these uses of the term 'monopoly'. Regardless, what is clear at this point is that the two uses of 'monopoly' share a useful family resemblance and, in particular, the statement that "private property is a government enforced monopoly" appears to be closer to the reality than the statement that "Owning a physical object is a natural property of the physical world around us."

Games Workshop Goes After Fan Site 174 174

mark.leaman writes "BoingBoing has a recent post regarding Games Workshop's aggressive posturing against fan sites featuring derivative work of their game products. 'Game publisher and miniature manufacturer Games Workshop just sent a cease and desist letter to, telling them to remove all fan-made players' aids. This includes scenarios, rules summaries, inventory manifests, scans to help replace worn pieces — many of these created for long out of print, well-loved games...' As a lifelong hobby gamer of table, board, card and miniature games, I view this as pure heresy. It made me reject the idea of buying any Games Workshop (read Warhammer) products for my son this Christmas. Their fate was sealed, in terms of my wallet, after I Googled their shenanigans. In 2007 they forbid Warhammer fan films, this year they shut down Vassal Modules, and a while back they went after retailers as well. What ever happened to fair use?"
The Matrix

How The Matrix Online Went Wrong 144 144

As the July 31st deadline for The Matrix Online's closure looms, Gamer Limit is running a story discussing the game's shortcomings, as well as some of the decisions that led to its failure. Quoting: "I honestly thought the writers must have absolutely hated the remaining cast of The Matrix Trilogy or something, because they constantly seemed to go out of their way to phase out existing characters in favor of newer ones. The cast overall basically made me, as a player, feel distant from the main storyline and made the entire game feel like a Matrix side story instead of the continuation it was meant to be. ... When MxO first launched there was an entire team dedicated to playing the game as Agents and other key characters as a means to further in-game events and directly interact with players, giving players the feeling that they truly were making a difference. After the SOE buyout of the game the LESIG team was reduced to playing minor characters before eventually being phased out and replaced with a Live Event Team (LET) comprised purely of volunteers."

Comment: See Collins-Sussman's and Fitzpatrick's Tech Talk (Score 1) 195 195

If you haven't seen it already, you'll want to watch this great Google Tech Talk on how to survive and thrive on Open Source project teams.

Beyond what the title claims you'll learn from the talk, you'll also also come away with a ton of excellent insight into how to recognize healthy project teams.

+ - Should I learn Java or stay with mainframes? 1 1

JCOTTON writes: "CIOs of major corporations are agreed . They trust their mainframe systems more than they trust their distributed systems. But a "perfect storm" may be brewing. Many of the the mainframe Baby Boomer generation programmers will retire in the next decade. Deborah Perelman writes that CIOs should plan for this "problem".
I am a long time mainframe programmer, and I am now learning Java, JavaBeans, JDBC, and Swing, in order to switch to a more modern technology. My mainframe shop CIO says that we are moving to Java, but that our mainframe system will still be around in 10 years. Do Slashdot readers agree with my choice to learn Java? Or should I remain forever a mainframer? Do I trust my CIO?"
United States

+ - Working in a very remote area

leeet writes: My family and I are faced with a big dilemma. I'm from a small town where the only thing IT-related is the local mom and pop computer shop and I'm barely being sarcastic. There is no innovation and most medium to large companies fulfill their IT needs from head office (i.e. if something breaks, they basically sent consultants for 1 or 2 days). Since I work in a semi-specialized field (IT Security), I had to move to a large city in order to make a "nice" living. Turns out that we're not sure if we're living a "nice living" after all: long commute time, away from our family, expensive housing and so on. I think everyone knows what I'm talking about.

So I'm faced with two choices:

1. Work in a large city, pay a high mortgage, commute forever and have no life whatsoever with my family. Not the best for my family.

2. Move to a nice remote area, work in some factory and struggle to make a decent living while never knowing when the factory will close (I'm also being barely sarcastic here). Not really better for my family.

So the best is of course a mixture of both options. I have some ideas in mind but they are very limited (like starting my own physical/Internet business, telecommuting for an IT company or simply re-orienting my career although this would be hard — like opening a restaurant, owning a bed & breakfast inn or something entirely different of what I do)

As far as telecommuting, I'm curious to know about real-life examples. What do you telecommuter people do? Sure some people telecommute, but is this "real"? Do some people really telecommute 365 days a year? Every single company that I worked for had a telecommute policy and we couldn't do it year round. We had perhaps 1 or 2 days per week at the maximum. My current company actually completely forbids telecommuting. So are there fields that are more open to telecommuters (perhaps fields where decentralization is well accepted — like insurance)?

Anyone willing to tell their own success story? How are you making enough money to support your family in a remote area? And perhaps more important, what are you doing exactly? I'm not looking for obvious ideas (i.e. do freelance programming — I already know about this) but rather for "think out of the box" ideas. Is anyone working from Hoot Owl, Oklahoma and is happy about it?

+ - Self-Centered Cultures Narrow Your Viewpoint->

InvisblePinkUnicorn writes: "NewScientist reports on research indicating that people from Western cultures such as the US are particularly challenged in their ability to understand someone else's point of view because they are part of a culture that encourages individualism. In the experiment, Chinese students outperformed their US counterparts when ask to infer another person's perspective. Volunteers had to follow the instructions of a director and move named objects from one compartment to another. But sometimes the researchers placed two objects of the same kind (eg, "wooden block") in the grid. 95% of Chinese students would immediately understand which object to move — the one visible to both them and the director. Their US counterparts, however, did not always catch on — only 35% understood what to do."
Link to Original Source
The Almighty Buck

+ - Banks Make More on Overdraft Fees than Loans->

JeremyDuffy writes: "Research shows that banks are making far more on fees than actual loans. Worse yet, they specifically engineered their systems and policies to maximize the fees charged. For example, holding deposits long enough for your account to go negative so they can charge overdraft fees. New laws are in the works and if they pass, this kind of predation could end. In the meantime, you can use their nasty policies against them to get free loans for the cost of a single fee (see the article for details)"
Link to Original Source

Getting the job done is no excuse for not following the rules. Corollary: Following the rules will not get the job done.