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Comment: Re:When the cat's absent, the mice rejoice (Score 1) 162

Well, I'd be with you if the government was poking around on the users' computers, but they weren't. The users were hosting the files on a public peer-to-peer network where you essentially advertise to the world you've downloaded the file and are making it available to the world. Since both those acts are illegal, you don't really have an expectation of privacy once you've told *everyone* you've done it. While the broadcasting of the file's availability doesn't prove you have criminal intent, it's certainly probable cause for further investigation.

These guys got off on a narrow technicality. Of course technicalities do matter; a government that isn't restrained by laws is inherently despotic. The agents simply misunderstood the law; they weren't violating anyone's privacy.

Comment: Re:Crude? (Score 2) 74

by hey! (#47904781) Attached to: Original 11' <em>Star Trek Enterprise</em> Model Being Restored Again

Compare that to some of the ST:TNG props that I've seen that look fine on screen, but when examined closely look like someone gave a 5-year old a couple of shots of vodka and turned them loose with a paintbrush.

There's a certain wonder to that too.

I had the same reaction when I saw the ST:TNG props in person. You wouldn't buy a toy that looked that cheesy. The wonder of it is that the prop makers knew this piece of crap would look great onscreen. That's professional skill at work. Amateurs lavish loving care on stuff and overbuild them. Pros make them good enough, and put the extra effort into stuff that matters more.

Comment: Re: Great one more fail (Score 1) 408

by hey! (#47904749) Attached to: High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

These kinds of responses are conditioned on certain assumptions that may not hold for all users.

For example, let's assume that you have no need whatsoever to prevent other users from using your gun. Then any complication you add to the firearm will necessarily make it less suitable, no matter how reliable that addition is. An example of someone on this end of the spectrum might be a big game hunter who carries a backup handgun.

On the other hand suppose you have need of a firearm, but there is so much concern that someone else might use it without authorization that you reasonably decide to do without. In that opposite situation you might well tolerate quite a high failure rate in such a device because it makes it possible to carry a gun. An example of someone on this end of the spectrum might be a prison guard -- prison guards do not carry handguns because of precisely this concern.

This isn't rocket science. It's all subject to a straightforward probabilistic analysis *of a particular scenario*. People who say that guns *always* must have a such a device are only considering one set of scenarios. People who say that guns must *never* have such a device are only considering a different set of scenarios. It's entirely possible that for such a device there are some where it is useful and others where it is not.

Comment: Re:No, no. Let's not go there. Please. (Score 1) 695

by fyngyrz (#47900443) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Agnosticism is about knowledge. the Theism / Atheism poles are diametric opposites: belief and non-belief. There's no middle ground definable by knowledge, or lack thereof.

Agnosticism is not a third position. You're either a theist -- that is, you hold some measure of belief in a god or gods -- or you're not, and you don't. From there, you can, if you like, assert a state of knowledge to bolster your choice, or a lack of a state of knowledge to do the same thing. But your position is still either you believe, or you don't.

The whole point about belief, or not, is that it is contingent upon faith. Knowledge is not.

Hope that helped some.

Comment: Re:What are the bounds of property? (Score 0) 152

by fyngyrz (#47899291) Attached to: Justice Sotomayor Warns Against Tech-Enabled "Orwellian" World

An interesting issue is, the photons that formed the image were not on their property at the time, nor do they have a legitimate claim to ownership of those photons just because they happened to bounce off their stuff. They probably bounced off a lot of other stuff, too. "My photon! MY PHOTON!" has more than a little bit of the ring of insanity about it. :)

If you don't want a photonic record of your actions, the sensible answer is to avoid photons that can form such a thing, i.e., stay inside your dwelling with opaque curtains drawn, erect a fence and a cover, etc.

Comment: No, no. Let's not go there. Please. (Score 5, Informative) 695

by fyngyrz (#47899243) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

The big challenge for atheism is not God; it is that of providing an alternative to Spock-ism. We need an account of our place in the world that leaves room for value."

Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or god. Nothing else. It's not about science, it's not about ethics, it's not about morals, it's not about values. When you say you're atheist, you're saying you do not hold any belief there is a god or gods. That's all. There's no dogma, no book, no set of "therefore we believe these here other thingamajigs", nothing.

If you want to know what an atheist thinks about something other than belief in a god or gods, you really must ask them, or you're simply letting your imagination paint a false picture of the world.

Comment: Re:I just want the new Nexus. (Score 1) 215

There are three professions where being untruthful is the key to success: Lawyers, salespeople, and marketing. All three are hired to portray their client in the most favorable light possible, and the very best ones lie through their teeth. The worst of these three are the marketers because they have legions of psychologists and scientists trying to figure out the best way to lie to people.

Yes! You're both presenting a perfectly defensible argument against marketing and reinforcing my original point! Because geeks tend to abhor marketing, we dismiss its significance, and are perennially gobsmacked as to why an intrinsically emotional, manipulatable species is so susceptible to emotional manipulation.

So long as humanity is what it is, reason will only ever get you so far. You either need to blow the doors off with a staggeringly amazing thing, or come to terms with the fact that every single entity who might care about your thing has feelings, and bending those feelings in your favor can work wonders.

It's not all bad, though; emotional manipulation works under much the same constraints. Unless you're a Level 80 Snake Oil Salesman with a hat full of luck, you're going to have a very hard time making your thing last if it doesn't live up to the hype--and your reputation will suffer for it.

Comment: Re:I just want the new Nexus. (Score 5, Insightful) 215

The only real feature of note was Apple Pay, which might finally make NFC payments take off in the US. It's been a technology that should have hit it big a couple of years ago, but has never seen much consumer buy-in for some reason.

It's pretty straightforward, to my mind. With the exception of all but the most staggering technological advancements, widespread adoption of new technology typically requires:

  1. a sound implementation,
  2. a robust support infrastructure, and
  3. an effective marketing campaign.

Geeks, for a variety of reasons, tend to respect the first, grok the second, and abhor the third. I personally believe it's what drives our perpetual cycle of incredulity on this subject--because we so detest the last part of this equation, we refuse to see its importance in getting all those squishy, distracted, emotional bags of water to adopt cool new stuff.

NFC has never had the effective marketing campaign in the US, and only kinda had the support infrastructure. The iPhone has incredible inertia on the marketing front, and Apple have clearly done the legwork on building a good starting lineup of financial institutions and retailers for Apple Pay. It remains to be seen whether this'll be sufficient to make NFC catch on, but it's easily the closest we've come to covering all three of the bases above.

Comment: Re:Cuba could have lifted it ages ago (Score 1) 522

by shutdown -p now (#47887443) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

You think the Castro dynasty would give up their communist ideals just because the US lifts the embargo?

Of course not. But you give the right answer immediately.

The truth is that the US has very little to do with Cuba's problems. All the embargo really does to Cuba is give its leaders someone to blame for everything that Cuba is not. A convenient scapegoat for the government.

Exactly. Embargo is a convenient scapegoat - it lets the government to explain away harsh life and crackdowns by an ongoing conflict, "us vs them", "everything for the victory". Remove it, and it makes that much harder for them to maintain that. Long term, it will accelerate the inevitable collapse of the dictatorship and the transition to something saner. If Castros are smart, they will do what Chinese and Vietnamese elites did, and head the transition rather than trying to resist it, so as to reap the maximum benefits. If not, there will be another revolution.

Either way, all that embargo does is delay that process. So it hurts the people of Cuba, not its government.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 522

by shutdown -p now (#47887383) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

The embargo started before the Cuban missile crisis (in fact, many historians believe that it was the extreme hostility of US towards Cuba after the revolution that pushed the latter towards Soviets). In any case, the notion that if the embargo is lifted, Cuba would rebuild the missile bases, just defies any common sense. It was not their bases to begin with, and if someone else would want to rebuild them today, the embargo makes it easier not harder (because it takes that much less to pay to Cuba for them).

Comment: Re:Overall death toll under communism: 100 Million (Score 1) 522

by shutdown -p now (#47887373) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

If you seriously consider the Black Book of Communism to be the "best estimates for communist regimes killing people", you're either deluded or retarded. Heck, even if you take the book at its face value, even then it counts "victims of communism" - and by this they mean anyone who has died due to e.g. starvation during a famine, regardless of whether said famine was artificially induced or not (and Soviet Russia had plenty natural ones in the aftermath of its Civil War). For the actual killing estimates, they tend to take the highest figures from the sources that are basically pure guesswork, like Solzhenitsyn's books.

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