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Comment: Re:But does it matter any more? (Score 1) 77

by PopeRatzo (#48911119) Attached to: Windows 10 IE With Spartan Engine Performance Vs. Chrome and Firefox

Only if the DoJ continues to look the other way in the face of continuing flagrant Sherman act violations

If you're a fan of any current computing tech, either mobile or on the desktop, you really don't want to be bringing up Sherman Act violations.

I can't think of a single major manufacturer of PCs, mobiles, or commercial operating systems for PCs or mobiles that isn't guilty of anti-trust violations.

Comment: Maybe the "weak" are those who can't cooperate? (Score 1) 224

  "We need competition in order to survive."
  "Life is boring without competition."
  "It is competition that gives us meaning in life."
These words written by American college students capture a sentiment that runs through the heart of the USA and appears to be spreading throughout the world. To these students, competition is not simply something one does, it is the very essence of existence. When asked to imagine a world without competition, they can foresee only rising prices, declining productivity and a general collapse of the moral order. Some truly believe we would cease to exist were it not for competition.
    Alfie Kohn, author of No contest: the case against competition, disagrees completely. He argues that competition is essentially detrimental to every important aspect of human experience; our relationships, self-esteem, enjoyment of leisure, and even productivity would all be improved if we were to break out of the pattern of relentless competition. Far from being idealistic speculation, his position is anchored in hundreds of research studies and careful analysis of the primary domains of competitive interaction. For those who see themselves assisting in a transition to a less competitive world, Kohn's book will be an invaluable resource.

BTW, I'm quoting Morton Deutsch there (as indicated). Here is the source link (also on the previously linked page):
" Q: You're starting to see the analogy to international conflict, or intractable conflict on a larger scale?
A: Yes. Well, I wrote a paper about preventing World War III. That was during the height of the cold war, I think I wrote it in 1982, it was called "The Presidential Address to the International Society to Political Psychology." And there I took the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union and characterized it as a malignant relationship, which had some of the characteristics that I was talking about with the couple. It was right for both the United States and the Soviet Union to think that the other was hostile, would undo it, would damage it, you know, all of these things. The relationship was a malignant one. They had to become aware of the malignancy, and the only way out really was recognizing that it's hurting, recognizing that there is a potential better way of relating. And that better way of relating involves having a sense that one can only have security if there's mutual security. And that's true in most relationships. That's particularly true to recognize groups that have had bitter strife where they've hurt each other. They have to deal with the problem of how to get to where they can live together. It may be ethnic groups within a given nation or community. They can only live together if they recognize that their own security is going to be dependent on the other person's security. So each person, each side, each group has to be interested in the welfare of the other.
    On a national level it has to deal with military and other economic security. At the group level and personal level, it often has to do with psychological security. It has to do with someone recognizing, I shouldn't be treating the other in an undignified, disrespectful way. So in an interpersonal relationship, that kind of security, recognizing that not only are you entitled to it, so is the other person entitled to it. And if you don't give that other person that entitlement the relationship is going to move in the other direction, back to bitter conflict."

That said, sure, if you look at evolution, there is a sense that every generation is filtered somehow. Only one sperm of millions gets to the egg... But, what really matters to survival of humans once they are conceived? Cooperation seems very important among humans. Individual excellence is important too though, and is also involved with impressing members of the opposite sex (as is displaying cooperating, depending on who you are trying to impress). So, it is a complex topic.

James P Hogan has some interesting ideas about that in "Voyage From Yesteryear", where people essentially "competed" to gain status by demonstrating excellence in being helpful in a gift economy. :-)

In any case, mutual security is all around us at all sorts of levels. What is a marriage about for many people? What is a neighborhood watch organization? What is a professional association? What are US states about?

What is NATO about (in theory)?
"The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party."

Although, based on what happened with WWI, I've suggested an alternative approach of a "mutual attack pact" against countries in the pact who violate agreed-on borders instead of a NATO-like alliance to attack those outside the pact: :-)
"> Paul, I think your idea is absolutely brilliant, and the way to go. I have
> not seen it anywhere else, and I hope you are able to make the idea more
> widely known, especially to upper echelons. ..."

Comment: On sparks and credit and muses etc. (Score 1) 70

by Paul Fernhout (#48910921) Attached to: Modular Smartphones Could Be Reused As Computer Clusters

Thanks for the pointer! I doubt I'll find my name there. Also, I said the 3X3 display wall panel may have sparked an interest in combining speech research and Jeopardy (perhaps, in an unconscious way?) -- but Watson itself is a much broader system. I wanted to work on such systems then, and talked a bit about "wouldn't it be nice if..." like with a display wall connected to a supercomputer for solving tough problems, but I said nothing detailed as to how it would really work, beyond creating a simple system with a Linux server where you could say things like, "put stocks on panel 3" or something like that. I don't even remember in detail what pattern of utterances I set it up to respond to (it was not very complex). So, my contribution to Watson itself technically -- probably near zilch. It's just the display wall Jeopardy connection I wonder about. But now that you raise the issue, aspects of using an AI to help solve problems was part of that idea. But, sci-fi writers like Isaac Asimov with Multivac or his robot stories have been taking about that for decades...

As for credit for being a spark, do people, say, always even remember some book they read years ago where an idea began to seep into their mind? How do you even quantify a degree of contribution? When I asked Ted Nelson (when he visited IBM once) about whether "The Skills of Xandu" short story by Theodore Sturgeon inspired his work, he thanked me said he had been looking for the story and he claimed to not even be able to remember the story's name! :-) Here is an audio version of that story, which is about a wearable nanotech computers supporting humans wirelessly sharing their knowledge and skills -- hot prescient stuff for the early 1950s:

BTW, I gave a copy of that story to my supervisor at IBM Research, a master inventor with 50 patents to his name. He finally looked at it a while after I left, and thanked me, and said it was the story that got him interested in materials research based on its nanotech angle! But he had long forgotten it. I can wonder how many other inventors that story has inspired? I don't know what inspired it though. Maybe Memex? :-)

I've been tangentially around several development like WordNet (George Miller), "Mind Children" (Hans Moravec, who read my senior thesis written under Geoge about self-replicating robots as he was working on the book), Marshall Brain's early career (where he probably saw a simulation I made of self-replicating robots, and I wonder if that contributed to his later concern with "Manna"), and at IBM Research as mentioned with Jeopardy and Watson. Possibly some others (like my possibly talking with David Gelernter about triples I was enamored of, and him saying tuples were more general, at SUNY Stony Brook), my talking at Princeton about robotics and stores (Jeff Bezos was the year after me), my senior thesis which presaged "Evolutionary psychology" but I doubt that sparked much as not many people read it and that field was already developing in parallel. as I can see now. In no case would I claim to be clearly the driving force behind any of these accomplishments which are full of a lot of hard and inventive work. As with Watson, it's possible I was just a tangential spark to some of these projects to some degree -- or not! It is also quite possible that I ended up hanging around people like Hans Moravec because we already were thinking along similar lines. Also, sometime ideas seem just "in the air" for whatever reason. Or ideas come to people by other paths, often multiple times before we even notice them. (It's said in direct mail as a rule of thumb you need to send the same advertising letter three times before people pay attention to it.) And certainly, in all cases, a lot of sparks went the other way, to me. :-) For example, I worked on this essay in part because Marshall Brain in one of is essays talks about how a "jobless recovery" could be a sign of impending wide-spread automation.

As another case of parallel creation, I won "highest honors" in a regional science fair for a robot that looked like R2D2 *before* Star Wars came out. R2D2 though must have been made around the same time as I made my robot. Likely the relationship is that somehow we both had seen the same vacuum cleaner (which I used as the body) and also both had seen "Silent Running". Or it was just coincidence. Although it bugged me a bit that people thought I was copying R2D2 in later years and versions. :-) I actually did add a light-controlled sound system that sounded like him in a later version though (the one pictured on my site). So, certainly sparks went to me from that film -- as, even greater, from Silent Running.

And really, it is only sometime decades later when one thinks about some connections or sparks or their possible results.

I've always liked connecting up ideas and even connecting up people to each other over some common interest. It is not without its downside. I remember being around CMU and having a grad student come to me after I had said Matthew Mason's brilliant "Uncertainty Reducing Operations" idea (brilliant) about robotic grasping (move the hand in a swipe so the part is likely at the edge of a box) could be applied to better understanding biological processes like protein synthesis. The grad student told me essentially I should not be saying interdisciplinary or speculative stuff like that if I wanted to be in the graduate program there. That was a huge shock to me, to hear someone say something like that around a research labs. That was long before someone else (James P. Hogan) suggested I read "Disciplined Minds" to better understand academia and grad school.

More on me and WordNet for example, where George had also told me he was making WordNet in part to show that having a network of concepts was not enough by itself for AI which many researchers seemed to believe then and was something I implicitly believed then):
"My 1985 UG senior thesis work ("Why Intelligence: Object, Evolution, Stability and Model") with him may have very slightly help inspired Wordnet and so even more indirectly Simpli and Google AdSense: in the sense of my enthusiastically talking to him a lot about networks of concepts for AI I wanted to put on a hard disk for a Commodore PET using Pointrel triads. That hard disk had eaten a document George was writing in his office on a deadline so he let me have it in the lab to play with (rather than throw it out) -- that file incident was the probably the only time I heard him swear. :-) Of course, the actual idea and all the hard work and the psycholinguistic design behind WordNet is all his. ... Being around young people can be inspiring in many ways that are not "plagiarism". Young people bring a hopefulness which can be infectious -- even if in retrospect my plan to build a human level AI using a Commodore PET and an unreliable 10MB harddisk was absurd. George's brilliance lay in maybe later thinking, "What AI-ish thing can I build with all I know and the tools at hand?" He may well have done WordNet whether he had met me in my enthusiastic unreasonableness or not. Still, it is often the annoying seemingly ignorant questions of youth that make us old geezers think. :-)"

But, you're probably not going to find my name on any WordNet stuff. In our society, credit can link to income though, so there is always reason to seek it (at least, until we get a basic income). Sometimes I get a mention (even if hyphenated :-) when I'm more obviously involved in something:

Yeah, and I got on a software patent. :-( Frowny face as I don't like software patents.

Such is life. I'm glad I got (potentially) a chance to contribute, no matter how tangential. Anyway, I hope maybe I've helped the Slashdot community more than hurt it (too many links and long posts), in terms of helping connect up some ideas about technology and society,

And then of course, there are the software programs and essays, and whatever tangential impacts they may have or not have...

Anyway, by now you probably think I'm a loony. :-) Might be right. :-)

Or maybe some muse works sometimes works through me? :-) As no doubt through us all at times...
"The following morning, though, two visitors come to Steven's home, revealing that they are doctors from a mental clinic. They tell Steven that Sarah is an escaped psychiatric patient from their asylum who has multiple personality disorder. They find the whole "muse" idea hilarious. When they try to find Sarah to take her back, they discover that she has escaped."

But whatever our society can say about prizing creativity, for the most part, it doesn't (or at least, it generally rewards others):
"Try to see that an intricately subordinated industrial/commercial system has only limited use for hundreds of millions of self-reliant, resourceful readers and critical thinkers. ... Unless you do "creative" work the company way, you run afoul of a host of laws and regulations put on the books to control the dangerous products of imagination which can never be safely tolerated by a centralized command system."

For example, notice the "hard" part of getting that prototype built at IBM research was things like getting laptop locks for laptops about to be destroyed anyway. :-) Another "hard" thing I did at IBM Research was go through the "proper" process to get Python approved for use in the lab. I was a bit embarrassed when one of the lawyers wrote Guido to ask if he had actually written it .:-) But it got approved eventually.

Although "success" is more than creativity. It's hard work, connections, resources, luck, and so on. And that also shows in big companies like Microsoft or Google buying whatever successful companies they see, and letting all the other experiments just fade away as someone else's cost...

Related, by Calvin Coolidge:
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press On!" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Well, that may be a bit optimistic in some ways. :-) I now understand why the big names we know in technology, the ones in the news often like Gates or Zuckerberg or Ballmer or Scully and so on, were for the most part good, but not great technologists if they were technologists at all, but were excellent at starting or running tech companies, which is pretty much unrelated to actually doing invention or design of any technical sort. Jobs vs. Wozniak is another example, although at least Jobs has a sense of style. Most of them also started with a leg up in various ways (some combination of good health, fancy education up to undergrad, family money, etc.).

And they don't have to actually invent anything as long as they can buy it or just take the idea somehow if not patented (or even if it is) and use it. Around where I live now, a guy invented the railroad airbrake, but the story goes he showed it to a railroad magnate who just took the idea and ran with it (it was not patented). While one might see that as an argument for patents, alternatively, if we had a "basic income", credit in that sense might not be such a big deal... Just think of all the lives that brake concept saved by preventing so many train wrecks...
"Douglas disagreed with classical economists who recognised only three factors of production: land, labour and capital. While Douglas did not deny the role of these factors in production, he saw the "cultural inheritance of society" as the primary factor. He defined cultural inheritance as the knowledge, techniques and processes that have been handed down to us incrementally from the origins of civilization (i.e. progress). Consequently, mankind does not have to keep "reinventing the wheel". "

And often the problem is they don;t get the whole really big idea! See Alan Kay's talk about the Xerox ARC research for example/ He's not lamenting not getting more recognition. He's lamenting that not enough was taken! :-)
"Founder School Session: The Future Doesn't Have to Be Incremental"

Or by my wife on an open source project I've helped her with
"Steal These Ideas"

Also, the older I get, and the more I know, and the more I reflect on the sci-fi and various technical books I was swimming in in my teen years, the more I realize that the building blocks for so many "ideas" I've "had" were supplied by past generations... Even if I may put some of them together in new ways. Or spent my life trying to implement some of them, like Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Silent Running, or the software implied by the crystal belts in the Skills of Xanadu, or the self-replicating space habitat from "The Two Faces of Tomorrow" and so on.... When I was a kid, I rarely paid attention to the author's name on a story, and often times did not even pay attention to the title...

Anyway, now that I'm getting older, it seems like those years may be mostly behind me... Like George in his last decades, he just took that one idea, WordNet, and put years and years of hard work into it, to make it succeed. And a big part of that was convincing Princeton University to let him set it free legally. Wherever you are now, thanks for setting a good example about that, George! :-)

Of course, my obsession with triples for storing information is probably is not as good a choice as WordNet was. :-) Older stuff (pre RDF, going back to the 1980s):

But even that triple store idea may have come (not sure in the mists of time) by maybe thumbing through William Kent's "Data and Reality" for a bit while visiting an library at IBM San Jose when I was a teenager? So, William Kent would deserve some WordNet credit too, assuming I did?

Victor Serebriakoff's book "Brain" was influential, "Steps to an Ecology of Mind" by Gregory Bateson. "The Human Use of Human Beings" by Norbert Weiner. All these and many more were influential on me. Hard to say where I got one mental building block or another. How much do you pay attention to "sources" when you are a teen soaking up everything form everywhere?

A funny/ironic thing is, I remember once telling George about how I wanted to work on a problem before reading what others had to say about it so my "creativity" was not "contaminated" by their approach or solutions. I still think that is a good idea, for a time. But what I failed to realize, is how much my own creativity or problem solving strategies were based on learning so many strategies from reading about or seeing others wrestle with various problems. And I was also selling my own creativity short, by assuming that if I tried some approach and it did not work, or even if it did, that I might not think of another approach anyway. "Standing on the shoulders of giants" is so often true. As is never really noticing or quite recalling where some spark years ago came from...

My wife likes to say that big idea are like whales. If you are lucky, you get to swim with them for a time. But eventually they swim off on their own, leaving you behind. Sigh.

And of course, there have no doubt been many, many sparks in my own life, most of which I did not notice at the time. I remember, in the 1980s the (Indian) girlfriend of my roommate saying I needed to get more color in my diet. And wow, she was right :-) But I only started paying attention to that idea a years ago for other reasons, and then remembered and better understood her words....
"What Color Is Your Diet?"

That's just one example form my own life. No doubt there are many, many more. Most of which I might not even be able to remember, including as I was not paying attention to sources at the time, just "ideas". :-)

Anyway, I hope I did not overstated the case too much for my involvement in some things I was tangentially around.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 5, Insightful) 149

by pla (#48910479) Attached to: Ubisoft Revokes Digital Keys For Games Purchased Via Unauthorised Retailers
Simple, really:

Ubisoft just taught another generation of paying customers that piracy provides a superior product, regardless of price.

Congrats, Ubi! We haven't had a good DRM fuckup like this in a while - Without all your hard work, people might eventually forget how much it (and you) sucks. Keep up the good work!

Comment: Community working together to adddress threats (Score 1) 224

"(AC:) There's always someone who wants more than safety."

And how in practice are you going to deter someone or defend yourself from someone "who want's more safety" (or even know such a person exists and is out to make trouble for you) unless you are part of a community who are all looking out for each other?

Of course, you also have to be willing to listen and pay attention in that case. Example:
"Hoekstra on Underwear Bomber: "We Missed Him at Every Step""
"In November the suspect's father went to the US Embassy in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to warn that his son was being radicalized in Yemen."

Still, I have to agree that the challenge of what to do about mentally ill people or politically ill countries, when they become violent, is a challenging one for any community.

Related movie:
"The Day the Earth Stood Still"
"Klaatu warns the professor that the people of the other planets have become concerned for their safety after humans developed atomic power."

Or, as Einstein said: "The release of atomic power has changed everything except our way of thinking ... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. (1945)"

Although, in an age where even watches have enough CPU power to do the calculations that produced the original atomic bombs, retreating from the problem gets a little more complicated...

Comment: Re:The early 70's are calling. (Score 1) 224

As said by someone who studied primitive technology, when asked why he did not just go off to live by himself in the woods, "It takes a village of skilled people to live well int the wilderness" (or something to that effect).

Yeah, so most hippies were naive and also lacking technical skills and resources.

"Free love" is another "Hippy" ideal which did not work out too well either in most cases for various all-too-human reasons. Even when one rejects marriage, rejecting "relationships" is a completely different issue.

But, that the mistakes of many hippies do not prove anything about the general issue of decentralization for resiliency.

I agree with you that "equity" though is a big issue in any emerging social system. That is something that gave me pause long ago, as I write about here:
"Basically, this all made me realized there is a difference between being an "employee" (even an employee-owner) with revokable rights or loseable equity, and being a "citizen" with irrevokable rights."

Still, the "Co-housing" movement has been addressing some of these concerns as far as US cultural expectations.

A successful US co-housing example:
"EcoVillage at Ithaca is part of a global movement of people seeking to create positive solutions to the social, environmental and economic crises our planet faces. Since 1991 we have developed an award-winning ecovillage that invites you to live, learn and grow. Our mission is to promote experiential learning about ways of meeting human needs for shelter, food, energy, livelihood and social connectedness that are aligned with the long-term health and viability of Earth and all its inhabitants."

Healthy communities have rules and norms and stories that help manage them. Humans have been living in mostly independent tribal situations for hundreds of thousands of years. It is not like it can't be done, if you are willing to make certain sacrifices. The question is, how could we or should we do it now, with more technical and social knowledge?

Also, some random collection of strangers in the modern day does not have the social cohesion of an extended family or tribe from centuries ago who have known each other from birth. A random collection of strangers, sharing little more initially than some ideal, is probably going to need more formal structure and more formal processes. Also, millennia ago, there was not such a possibility of a huge rich/poor divide in such communities as regards outside work, where one person makes minimum wage at a job cooking or doing child care while another member of the community makes 100X that as a lawyer or a doctor -- or maybe a plumber in some areas these days. :-)

See also:
"Sahlins gathered the data from these studies and used it to support a comprehensive argument that states that hunter-gatherers did not suffer from deprivation, but instead lived in a society in which "all the peopleâ(TM)s wants are easily satisfied.""

However, much of my own thinking about this came from an interest in space settlements... This is an issue anybody creating space habitats, moon bases, Mars bases, or whatever needs to think about.

Another aspect of that was figuring out how to create communities that could survive nuclear war and economic collapse. My concern about surviving war might be a bit easier to understand when you consider that this is what my Mother's home town looked like after WWII:

For her, as a young teen at the time, such destruction came apparently out of the blue, losing her home to fire during the initial invasion (actually, accidentally from Dutch defenders she said, but I wonder about that).

Comment: One other thing -- C# is Delphi in drag :-) (Score 1) 458

by Paul Fernhout (#48909755) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?
"Anders Hejlsberg (born December 1960)[2] is a prominent Danish software engineer who co-designed several popular and commercially successful programming languages and development tools. He was the original author of Turbo Pascal and the chief architect of Delphi. He currently works for Microsoft as the lead architect of C#[1] and core developer on TypeScript."

I would have used dot net and C# alone for that reason based on liking Delphi -- except that the main line of those has long been proprietary and single platform compared to other language options which are free and/or multi-platform.

I'd be curious if you have by any chance tried C# and what you thought of it in comparison to Delphi?

Comment: Re:Plan A: Abundance & conflict resolution for (Score 1) 224

True, and that bit about Iraqis was indeed war propaganda used to justify US violence.
"The Nayirah testimony was a testimony given before the non-governmental Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990 by a woman who provided only her first name, Nayirah. The testimony was widely publicized, and was cited numerous times by United States senators and the American president in their rationale to back Kuwait in the Gulf War. In 1992, it was revealed that Nayirah's last name was al-Sabah ... and that she was the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign which was run by Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government. Following this, al-Sabah's testimony has come to be regarded as a classic example of modern atrocity propaganda."

Except Las Casa was also Spanish, so presumably "on the same side"as Columbus (or at least his funders):
"Bartolome de las Casas, O.P. (c. 1484[1] -- 18 July 1566) was a 16th-century Spanish historian, social reformer and Dominican friar. He became the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians". His extensive writings, the most famous being A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and Historia de Las Indias, chronicle the first decades of colonization of the West Indies and focus particularly on the atrocities committed by the colonizers against the indigenous peoples.[2] Arriving as one of the first European settlers in the Americas, he participated in, and was eventually compelled to oppose, the atrocities committed against the Native Americans by the Spanish colonists. In 1515, he reformed his views, gave up his Indian slaves and encomienda, and advocated, before King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, on behalf of rights for the natives."

So, it is perhaps more like Pat Tillman, who left a lucrative contract with the NFL to sign up to invade Iraq, and who conveniently died from "friendly fire" before a planned meeting with Noam Chomsky over his emerging doubts?
"Patrick Daniel "Pat" Tillman (November 6, 1976-- April 22, 2004) was an American football player who left his professional career and enlisted in the United States Army in June 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. His service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and subsequent death, were the subject of much media attention.[1] ... Despite his fame, Tillman did not want to be used for propaganda purposes. He spoke to friends about his opposition to President Bush and the Iraq war, and he had made an appointment with notable government critic Noam Chomsky for after his return from the military. The destruction of evidence linked to Tillman's death, including his personal journal, led his mother to speculate that he was murdered.[31] General Wesley Clark agreed that it was "very possible". ..."

More on that:
"An NFL football star who enlisted in the Army in May 2002, he apparently became disenchanted with the conduct of the war. He not only did not support President Bush for reelection, but encouraged others to vote for John Kerry. According to his mother, a friend of his had arranged for him to meet with Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus from MIT and one of our nationâ(TM)s most respected public intellectuals, who, no doubt, could have launched him into prominent orbit as an outspoken opponent of the war, had he been so inclined."

But read for yourself what Columbus himself wrote in his log.

Or read what an otherwise admiring Columbus biographer says, quoted in here:
"In his quest for gold, Columbus, seeing bits of gold among the Indians, concluded that there were huge amounts of it. He ordered the natives to find a certain amount of gold within a certain period of time. And if they did not meet their quota, their arms were hacked off. The others were to learn from this and deliver the gold. Samuel Eliot Morison, the Harvard historian who was Columbus' admiring biographer, acknowledged this. He wrote: "Whoever thought up this ghastly system, Columbus was responsible for it, as the only means of producing gold for exportâ¦Those who fled to the mountains were hunted with hounds, and of those who escaped, starvation and disease took toll, while thousands of the poor creatures in desperation took cassava poison to end their miseries. So the policy and acts of Columbus for which he alone was responsible began the depopulation of the terrestrial paradise that was Hispaniola in 1492. Of the original natives, estimated by a modern ethnologist at 300,000 in number, one-third were killed off between 1494 and 1496. By 1508, an enumeration showed only 60,000 aliveâ¦in 1548 Oviedo [Morison is referring to Fernandez de Oviedo, the official Spanish historian of the conquest] doubted whether 500 Indians remained."

But you're right that it can be hard to sort this sort of stuff out.

+ - Politicians are supporting Comcast's TWC merger with ghostwritten letters->

Submitted by stox
stox (131684) writes ""Yet Wood’s letter made one key omission: Neither Wood nor anyone representing Roswell’s residents wrote his letter to the FCC. Instead, a vice president of external affairs at Comcast authored the missive word for word in Mayor Wood's voice. According to email correspondence obtained through a public records request, the Republican mayor’s office apparently added one sign-off sentence and his signature to the corporate PR document, then sent it to federal regulators on the official letterhead of Roswell, Georgia.""
Link to Original Source

Comment: USA invading Canada? (Score 1, Interesting) 224

They better be better plans than the last two times the USA tried it and got its butt kicked (1175, 1812). :-) Or is it six times the USA has invaded?

Of course, if the USA really has to invade Canada, like say, if lots more oil is discovered there and the USA political system need to redirect who gets the profits from it, or if Canada experiments with a "basic income" again and the USA fears "contagion", then everyone will be screaming if there are no plans. :-) See also Chomsky on:
"The Threat of a Good Example"
"No country is exempt from U.S. intervention, no matter how unimportant. In fact, it's the weakest, poorest countries that often arouse the greatest hysteria. ... As far as American business is concerned, Nicaragua could disappear and nobody would notice. The same is true of El Salvador. But both have been subjected to murderous assaults by the US, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and many billions of dollars. There's a reason for that. The weaker and poorer a country is, the more dangerous it is as an example. If a tiny, poor country like Grenada can succeed in bringing about a better life for its people, some other place that has more resources will ask, "why not us?" ... "

I guess Canada is safe for now because it is not weak and poor?

It's a no win situation making such plans or not if your job is to consider every eventuality.

Still, sometimes the best way to win is not to play. This was written by a Marine Major General and two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Smedley Butler:
"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
    I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
    I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket."

Consider, for example, the Strv 103 tank that Sweden designed. They are designed for home defense on Sweden's mountainous terrain, not going abroad.
"It was known for its unconventional turretless design, with a fixed gun traversed by engaging the tracks and elevated by adjusting the hull suspension. ... The Strv 103 was designed and manufactured in Sweden. It was developed in the 1950s and was the first main battle tank to use a turbine engine. The result was a very low-profile design with an emphasis on defence and heightened crew protection level. ..."

That design reflects Major General Butler's point.

Although they have since gone more conventional in their designs:

The really laughable thing about all these plans is that, as was said in "Brittle Power" (or maybe "Energy, Vulnerability, and War"), quoting from memory from 1980s books, "a troop of boy scouts could shut down the USA's vital energy infrastructure" given the fragility of oil pipelines where every segment is essentially a single point of failure. If you want real defense, then you decentralize yoru infrastructure and make it resilient. But that would cut into the centralization of profits, so the USA remains highly vulnerable, and the only ways to minimize that vulnerability a tiny bit while still keeping the money flowing to the top is to make it more into a police state. According to Amory Lovins IIRC, just two years of the cost of the 1980s US Persian Gulf Deployment Force spent on energy efficiency including home insulation would have meant the USA no longer needed to import any foreign oil. But instead, for decades, we keep paying to defend those oil supply routes.

I discuss such issues here:
"Much current US military doctrine is based around unilateral security ("I'm safe because you are nervous") and extrinsic security ("I'm safe despite long supply lines because I have a bunch of soldiers to defend them"), which both lead to expensive arms races. We need as a society to move to other paradigms like Morton Deutsch's mutual security ("We're all looking out for each other's safety") and Amory Lovin's intrinsic security ("Our redundant decentralized local systems can take a lot of pounding whether from storm, earthquake, or bombs and would still would keep working"). "

An approach to creating solutions is suggested by me here:
"The OSCOMAK project is an attempt to create a core of communities more in control of their technological destiny and its social implications. No single design for a community or technology will please everyone, or even many people. Nor would a single design be likely to survive. So this project endeavors to gather information and to develop tools and processes that all fit together conceptually like Tinkertoys or Legos. The result will be a library of possibilities that individuals in a community can use to achieve any degree of self-sufficiency and self-replication within any size community, from one person to a billion people. Within every community people will interact with these possibilities by using them and extending them to design a community economy and physical layout that suits their needs and ideas."

Just imagine what the three or so trillion US dollars (or more) incurred for the US Iraq war could have done if spent on, say, fusion energy research or renewables or OSCOMAK. We are getting cheap solar panels anyway, but little thanks to that kind of highly focused massive investment that could have given us them decades earlier and spared the world (including US military families) a lot of suffering.

Meanwhile, after all those trillions of dollars, including more than enough spent on nuclear weapons to bulldoze and rebuild every house in the USA *twice*, the USA essentially remains devastatingly vulnerable because of its centralized and "just in time" infrastructure which is not designed to cope with major disasters. Even the US medical system is not scaled for pandemics, but just the most profit for the fewest MDs, as I mention here:
"Right now, a profit driven health care system has sized emergency rooms for average needs, and those emergency rooms are often full. With a basic income and more money going on a systematic basis to the health care system, the health care system emergency rooms will no longer be overrun with people there for reasons they could see a doctor for. So, emergency care would be better for millionaires. Millionaires with heart attacks won't be as likely to end up being diverted to far away hospitals because the local hospital emergency room is full. Likewise, emergency rooms might, with more money going to medicine, become sized for national emergencies, not personal emergencies, so they might become vast empty places, with physicians and other health care staff keeping their skills sharp always running simulations, learning more medical information, and/or doing basic medical research, with these people always ready for a pandemic or natural disaster or industrial accident which they had the resources in reserve to deal with. So, millionaires who got sick or injured in a disaster could be sure there was the facilities and expertise nearby to help them, even if most of the rest of the population needed help too at the same time too. In that way, some of this basic income could be funded by money that might otherwise go to the Defense department, because what is better civil defense then investing in a health care system able to to handle national disasters? So, any millionaires who are doctors (many are) would benefit by this plan, because their lives as doctors will become happier and less stressful, both with less paperwork and with more resources."

Plan to invade Canada if we must. Sounds like fun to do the plan for anyone who studies military issues. But, for goodness sake, let's make some real useful plans we *want* to put into action in a democracy, like stopping importing foreign oil, or scaling the medical system for plagues, or putting in place distributed renewables, or inventing hot and cold fusion, or ensuring 3D printers are in every Post Office and library and not just the US space station, or raising a capable healthy well-fed well-informed cooperative next generation ready to take on unexpected threats -- like zombie hoards invading the USA from Canada because they want our brains (after we've gained some). :-)

Comment: Re:Plan A: Abundance & conflict resolution for (Score 1, Interesting) 224

Again: "The Native understanding is that there is always enough for everyone when abundance is shared and when gratitude is given back to the Original Source. The trick was to explain the concept of the Field of Plenty with few mutually understood words or signs. The misunderstanding that sprang from this lack of common language robbed those who came to Turtle Island of a beautiful teaching."

And it is just happening again with downmodding as "off-topic" of my post in response about a healthier alternative rather than planning for doomsday and war. :-(

Even now, different people in the USA speak a different "language", even if the words themselves is called "English". As shown in ST:TNG "Darmok", words acquire their meaning through references to shared culture and stories. If you don't know the culture or stories, the words may sound like they have no meaning. Thus, that was part of the "boat people" from Europe failing to realize the true wealth of the Americas in native culture.

Another, even sadder, example is Columbus and the Arowak of Haiti, as explained by Howard Zinn:
"Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. ... These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus. ... The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold? He had persuaded the king and queen of Spain to finance an expedition to the lands, the wealth, he expected would be on the other side of the Atlantic-the Indies and Asia, gold and spices. ... The Indians, Las Casas says, have no religion, at least no temples. They live in "large communal bell-shaped buildings, housing up to 600 people at one time ... made of very strong wood and roofed with palm leaves.... They prize bird feathers of various colors, beads made of fishbones, and green and white stones with which they adorn their ears and lips, but they put no value on gold and other precious things. They lack all manner of commerce, neither buying nor selling, and rely exclusively on their natural environment for maintenance. They are extremely generous with their possessions and by the same token covet the possessions of their friends and expect the same degree of liberality." ... Now, from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were "naked as the day they were born," they showed "no more embarrassment than animals." Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold." ... Total control led to total cruelty. The Spaniards "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades." Las Casas tells how "two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys." ..."

This is the beginning of the movement of European "civiliation" into the Americas. This is the destruction of "Plan A", through the current neoliberal "Plan B" of a rich/poor divide to a possible eventual result in this described "Plan C" of "duck and cover" while everything goes "boom".

For more on a great peacemaker of modern times, read:
"To Become a Human Being: The Message of Tadodaho Chief Leon Shenandoah"

I quote from the foreword of that book in this essay:
"On dealing with social hurricanes (like the US CIA)"
""Warriors are held up as heroes. They are praised for their gallantry, exalted for their conquests, and used as symbols to inspire patriotism. Monuments are built for them as reminders of past victories and to prepare citizens for the next campaign. Leon Shenandoah was no warrior, yet no warrior could stand up against his power. He carried no weapons, used no harsh rhetoric, and made no demands. His strength was in gentleness. When he spoke, those around him listened. His words were always soft, his kindness evident. He was a spiritual man." ...
    The rest of this document is offered in that spirit, not that I consider myself in his league. :-) But I can certainly aspire... But without his culture, and his training, and his knowledge of 1000s of years of history, that is an aspiration, as with this overly long document, that may never be fulfilled. But, it is fun to try. And important to try.
    It is amazing that a central story of the Haudenosaunee is this story of great sin and redemption, acknowledging that people (and groups of people) can change. So, this document raises the question of, could the people of the CIA, even the torturers, someday be examples of becoming a "Tadodaho"? And, if they were willing to change, could we forgive them, accept them, and integrate them into a healthy community, as the Peacemaker did with the original Tadodaho?"

Same about learning to forgive those who ignored the need for "Plan A" (abundance for all?) and even Plan B (a wary co-existence amidst a big rich-poor divide?) and went straight to designing "Plan C" (war and doomsday for all via nuclear missiles, implementing ideas like "Level Seven")?

See also:
"Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age" by Joanna R. Macy

A summary of her current ideas:
"On Macy's website for her (and Chris Johnstone's) book Active Hope, How to Face the Mess We're in Without Going Crazy, she summarizes the practice which sustains an active hope:
        Take in a clear view of reality.
        Identify our vision for what we hope will happen.
        Take active steps to help bring that vision about."

Pre-WWII Germany as a people could not see their way to abundance other than by conquest. But now Germany is a modern miracle generating lots of high quality goods and a working social system. It could have done that before all the suffering of WWII! Likewise, although also very differently, the USA, as a people, is having trouble seeing their way to abundance other than through competition and war. How much suffering via "Plan B" or "Plan C" is it going to take before the USA will consider "Plan A" like was present in much of the Americas before Columbus (imperfections accepted)?

Of course, where did Germany's great ideas come from? Pre-WWII USA!!! How much we have forgotten...
"How did Germany become such a great place to work in the first place? The Allies did it. This whole European model came, to some extent, from the New Deal. Our real history and tradition is what we created in Europe. Occupying Germany after WWII, the 1945 European constitutions, the UN Charter of Human Rights all came from Eleanor Roosevelt and the New Dealers. All of it got worked into the constitutions of Europe and helped shape their social democracies. It came from us. The papal encyclicals on labor, it came from the Americans."

Thus the continuing consequence of "Prussian Schooling" which created the culture of obedience in Germany/Prussia that led to WWI and WWII and now has been destroying the fabric of the USA for several generations.
"The particular utopia American believers chose to bring to the schoolhouse was Prussian. The seed that became American schooling, twentieth-century style, was planted in 1806 when Napoleon's amateur soldiers bested the professional soldiers of Prussia at the battle of Jena. When your business is renting soldiers and employing diplomatic extortion under threat of your soldiery, losing a battle like that is pretty serious. Something had to be done.
    The most important immediate reaction to Jena was an immortal speech, the "Address to the German Nation" by the philosopher Fichte -- one of the influential documents of modern history leading directly to the first workable compulsion schools in the West. Other times, other lands talked about schooling, but all failed to deliver. Simple forced training for brief intervals and for narrow purposes was the best that had ever been managed. This time would be different. In no uncertain terms Fichte told Prussia the party was over. Children would have to be disciplined through a new form of universal conditioning. They could no longer be trusted to their parents. Look what Napoleon had done by banishing sentiment in the interests of nationalism. Through forced schooling, everyone would learn that "work makes free," and working for the State, even laying down one's life to its commands, was the greatest freedom of all. Here in the genius of semantic redefinition lay the power to cloud men's minds, a power later packaged and sold
by public relations pioneers Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee in the seedtime of American forced schooling.
    Prior to Fichte's challenge any number of compulsion-school proclamations had rolled off printing presses here and there, including Martin Luther's plan to tie church and state together this way and, of course, the "Old Deluder Satan" law of 1642 in Massachusetts and its 1645 extension. The problem was these earlier ventures were virtually unenforceable, roundly ignored by those who smelled mischief lurking behind fancy promises of free education. People who wanted their kids schooled had them schooled even then; people who didn't didn't. That was more or less true for most of us right into the twentieth century: as late as 1920, only 32 percent of American kids went past elementary school. If that sounds impossible, consider the practice in Switzerland today where only 23 percent of the student population goes to high school, though Switzerland has the world's highest per capita income in the world.
    Prussia was prepared to use bayonets on its own people as readily as it wielded them against others, so it's not all that surprising the human race got its first effective secular compulsion schooling out of Prussia in 1819, the same year Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, set in the darkness of far-off Germany, was published in England. Schule came after more than a decade of deliberations, commissions, testimony, and debate. For a brief, hopeful moment, Humboldt's brilliant arguments for a high-level no-holds-barred, free-swinging, universal, intellectual course of study for all, full of variety, free debate, rich experience, and personalized curricula almost won the day. What a different world we would have today if Humboldt had won the Prussian debate, but the forces backing Baron vom Stein won instead. And that has made all the difference."

Even all the way up through grad school:

Still, the world wide web, including Slashdot, is a place where people are often engaging in "full of variety, free debate, rich experience, and personalized curricula". So there is still hope. :-)

Comment: Re: That's a nice democracy you have there... (Score 1) 364

What criteria are you using to distinguish a nonconstitutional state from a constitutional one?

Example: In 2006, the Fijian military seized power from the elected Parliament. Some time afterward, on instruction from the military dictator, the President abrogated the constitution. During the entire tenure of the military regime, they did not issue a single law. They lacked the constitutional authority to do so. Instead, they issued a number of decrees, because that's what they were: Follow this instruction or get a visit from some very burly men with guns.

During the time between the abrogation of the old constitution and the promulgation of the new one (a period of several years), Fiji was a non-constitutional republic.

Comment: Plan A: Abundance & conflict resolution for al (Score -1, Offtopic) 224
"In our Seneca Tradition, the Field of Plenty is seen as a spiral that has its smallest revolution out in space and its' largest revolution near the Earth. This shape could be likened to an upside-down tornado. When our Ancestors assisted the Pilgrims in planting Corn and raising crops so they would not starve, we taught them the understanding of the Field of Plenty by bringing the cornucopia baskets full of vegetables. The Iroquois women wove these baskets as a physical reminder that Great Mystery provides through the Field of Plenty. The Pilgrims were taught that giving prayers of gratitude was not just a Christian concept. The Red Race understood thanksgiving on a daily basis.
            The Field of Plenty is always full of abundance. The gratitude we show as Children of Earth allows the ideas within the Field of Plenty to manifest on the Good Red Road so we may enjoy these fruits in a physical manner. When the cornucopia was brought to the Pilgrims, the Iroquois People sought to assist these Boat People in destroying their fear of scarcity. The Native understanding is that there is always enough for everyone when abundance is shared and when gratitude is given back to the Original Source. The trick was to explain the concept of the Field of Plenty with few mutually understood words or signs. The misunderstanding that sprang from this lack of common language robbed those who came to Turtle Island of a beautiful teaching. Our "land of the free, home of the brave" has fallen into taking much more than is given back in gratitude by its citizens. Turtle Island has provided for the needs of millions who came from lands that were ruled by the greedy. In our present state of abundance, many of our inhabitants have forgotten that Thanksgiving is a daily way of living, not a holiday that comes once a year."

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.