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Comment: Re:First blacks, (Score 1) 917

by rmckeethen (#46353753) Attached to: Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

The real question is whether you think a restaurant should have the right to discriminate against gays, black people, jews, swedes, poor people, poorly dressed people, etc. I think they should. It's not because I think discrimination is ok.

I see two problems here. First, you seem to be contradicting yourself. Either you believe it's OK to discriminate or you don't. If you think a restaurant should have the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation, race, religion or attire, than you believe discrimination is OK. You may not practice such discrimination yourself, but your statement makes it clear that you don't have a problem when other people do practice such discrimination.

The second issue I note is a little more subtle, but I think it too deserves attention. Specifically, discrimination based on something like attire, which is relatively easy for anyone to alter to meet a businesses' requirement, is inherently different from discrimination based on an inflexible aspect like ethnicity. In other words, I can change my shirt and tie without too much trouble, but I can't ever change the racial makeup of my parents, grandparents, etc. Conflating these two types of discrimination is, in my opinion, intellectually dishonest. It leaves people with the false impression that restrictions on 'discrimination' are simply trying to limit or curtail the ability of businesses to make *any* choices regarding their clientele, customers, policies, etc. That's not what's going on here. The question at hand is, "In Arizona, will a restaurant be able to post a sign that reads, 'We refuse to serve gays.'"

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 544

by rmckeethen (#46088881) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Throwing invalid and in many cases demonstrably false claims at students who don't have the background to see the invalidity is ludicrous.

But the real world throws-out false and misleading claims all the time. If we don't teach students how to think critically, how to weigh evidence-backed claims against claims based solely on authority, culture, religion, etc., than how are students ever supposed to gain the skills required to make reasoned choices when encountering conflicting 'facts' for the first time?

I mean, why single science out? Why not teach Holocaust denial in history class? After all, wouldn't that challenge students too? Perhaps you could also teach 2+2=5 and French verb conjugation in English class.

I dearly hope schools teach Holocaust denial in history class, and the conjugation of French verbs in English class. Examining the reasons why Holocaust denial persists against overwhelming evidence to the contrary can teach far more about why the Holocaust happened in the first place than any mere regurgitation of the historical facts involved. In the same vein, comparing and contrasting English verb conjugation against the French equivalent can serve as a stepping-stone to understanding how language actually works, which can in turn lead to a whole host of fascinating ideas you might never have even imagined existed otherwise. So yes -- I do hope schools are teaching exactly these kinds of things.

Schools are supposed to teach science, like any other subject, to a reasonable degree of accuracy. Teaching students that somehow just because someone calls some nonsense claim a "theory" is not teaching at all.

You're talking about teaching science instead of religion in the classroom; what I'm suggesting is that we'd be better off if we simply taught the scientific method instead. Ultimately, I don't believe that science lies only in facts like the weight of an electron, or the density of water at one atmosphere, or concepts like the Theory of Evolution. At least as I understand it, what science is truly about is a way of looking at the world around us, thinking about how that world is actually put together, and then testing those thoughts to see if there's any evidence to support them. I think if you can teach core concepts like that to students, and get them to understand what it really means, than you'll have armored those students against the myriad of dogmatic 'truths' the world is all too likely to throw at them.

Comment: Useless (and an obvious deception) (Score 2) 137

by rmckeethen (#45458343) Attached to: Yahoo Encrypting Data In Wake of NSA Revelations
Let's be real about this -- if the N.S.A. wants data on any particular Yahoo user, or on all Yahoo users for that matter, it's not going to make one wit of difference if Yahoo encrypts its data or not. All the N.S.A. has to do is issue a national security letter, and Yahoo will cough-up whatever they got. Yahoo's encrypting the data on disk or in transit through their datacenters is little more than a pathetic attempt to lure customer's into believing that Yahoo is doing something to protect their data when, in fact, there's little Yahoo can do to prevent the N.S.A. for getting its hands on your data.

Comment: Re:And... (Score 1) 535

by rmckeethen (#35483542) Attached to: Anonymous Leaks Internal Bank of America Emails
Amen, brother. This is what I've been saying for years. Blaming the corporate name and logo for bad business behavior is both pointless and counterproductive. It's like the police fingering my famous twin brother for a crime I committed simply because my twin's name is well-known while mine is not. Corporations can't commit crimes -- the people making the decisions for those corporations are the ones we need to hold accountable. As long as we let crooks and swindlers hide behind the fiction of corporate personhood, the real people who actually commit these crimes are never going to see any incentive to stop fleecing the public.

Comment: I Solved A Similar Problem (Score 2) 208

by rmckeethen (#35448338) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Data-Only Phone, Voice Over WiFi?

A few months ago, I decided to ditch my landline and move as many calls as I could to my iPhone via SIP. Here's how I did it:

***My Equipment***

  • An unlocked iPhone with a prepaid T-Mobile SIM
  • A copy of the freeware VoIP app. Siphon
  • A used Macmini server I picked-up for $200
  • VMware Fusion running on the Macmini server
  • The Incredible PBX from Nerd Vittles
  • A free ISP connection courtesy of my very cute and extremely generous next door neighbor Christina

The Incredible PBX (I-PBX) runs within VMware and is pre-configured to support free VoIP calls anywhere in the US over Google Voice. The Google Voice service gives me a local phone number (DID), and will route calls to my home-based I-PBX over GTalk. Siphon on the iPhone gives me both in and outbound SIP calling while I'm on WiFi at home. At home, I also have a Cisco VoIP phone I got a few years ago which also handles inbound and outbound calls. When I'm away from home, I can make outbound calls whenever there's a WiFi network available by routing the calls over a VPN connection back to the Macmini server.

Note that there were a couple of caveats with my setup. The biggest problem is that inbound calls via Google Voice and GTalk don't seem to work reliably; the phones ring, but the voice connection never seems to work. I tend to think the problem is in my configuration though, and if I spent a bit more time troubleshooting the issue, I'm sure I could solve the problem. However, I can still use Google Voice to forward inbound calls back to the iPhone phone via the cellular network. I can then get the call, figure out who it is and how long it will take and, if it's going be be more than a couple of minutes, I can call back via VoIP.

Comment: Re:Yes but (Score 2, Insightful) 385

by rmckeethen (#31248462) Attached to: Entergy Admits 2005 Tritium Leak

The problem is they lied under oath. And once people are lying about the state of things you don't know what else they are or will lie about. These might not matter, but they might very well lie about the next leak when it is a serious problem. As with many issues, the initial incident isn't nearly as much of a problem as the coverup.

How do you know they lied? How can you be sure it wasn't an honest error by a company official who simply didn't understand the technical details of the reactor's plumbing? I don't know about you but, in my experience, these types of corporate misstatements and goof-ups are pretty common in any industry, nuclear or otherwise. I'm not convinced that isn't the case here. TFA doesn't provide enough evidence one way or the other on this point. It certainly doesn't substantiate a deliberate coverup. There's just no hard evidence of that.

The recent revelation of a tritium leak at Vermont Yankee in 2005 seems, at least to me, to indicate that someone at Entergy is trying to be up-front and honest with the public and the NRC. I applaud that. Good for them. God knows, after Three-Mile Island in 1979, I can't imagine anyone in the US nuclear industry wanting to admit to any accident, benign or otherwise.

As others have already pointed out, a tritium leak isn't particularly dangerous. I don't feel compelled to get my own knickers in a knot over the problem. But I do think it's telling how quickly a minor leak at a nuclear facility spirals into, "They're lying -- it's a coverup!" This type of knee-jerk anti-nuclear reaction is exactly why the US hasn't built a new reactor in over a quarter of a century. It's also why I'm dubious about new nuclear projects today. Until US citizens show a willingness to get facts in their hands and abandon the "if it's nuclear it must be bad' mentality we are never going to have the kind of debate we deserve to have over the pros and cons of nuclear energy.

Comment: Troll summary. (Score 5, Insightful) 385

by SatanicPuppy (#31247224) Attached to: Entergy Admits 2005 Tritium Leak

I don't want to be all "So what?" but so what? One plant leaks an unspecified amount of a weak beta emitter...It tested at the leak at a whopping 2 million picocuries, which is a bullshit measurement that's clearly chosen because it's more shocking than 2 microcuries. 2 microcuries is about what you'd get for a basic thyroid test at the docs office. Trituim doesn't stay resident in the body, it's half life is 12 years long, and it's a beta emitter: if you drink it you'll get a few rads, but you can take a shower in it without any problem.

The whole thing is clearly being pushed as an example of the horrible dangers of the super scary nuclear power industry, but what I see is the dangers that are inherent in running antiquated plants for years beyond their design life because a bunch of poorly informed hysterics have blocked all attempts to modernize them for the last 40 years.

And what the hell is the point in talking about the plants in Georgia? That's a different type of plant, being built by a different company! Georgia has the largest coal fired power plant in the us: where's that outrage? Where is the outrage over the radiation it emits?

Mozilla

+ - Must-Have Extensions for Thunderbird 2.0

Submitted by Operator
Operator (666) writes "While Firefox has been in the spotlight for some time now, Thunderbird has yet to enjoy the same wide adoption or glowing praise despite being an excellent email client. It's no surprise that a popular topic has been Firefox's best (and worst) extensions while Thunderbird add-ons have gone largely unnoticed. In celebration of the recent release of Thunderbird 2.0 here are the best extensions for the program along with some honorable mentions."
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+ - 'Kryptonite' Discovered in Serbian Mine

Submitted by Rubinstien
Rubinstien (6077) writes "A mineralogist at London's Natural History Museum was contracted to help identify an unknown mineral found in a Serbian mine. After its crystal structure was analyzed and identified, the researcher was shocked to find the material already referenced in literature. Says Dr. Chris Stanley, "Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula — sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide — and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns." "I'm afraid it's not green and it doesn't glow either — although it will react to ultraviolet light by fluorescing a pinkish-orange," he told BBC News. More details can be found in the BBC News article."

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