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Comment Some perspective (Score 5, Interesting) 122 122

Just to put recent events in perspective:

1) The Chinese grab a database of our personnel, which lets them impersonate anyone (in the database), find spies and ongoing projects, blackmail federal workers for more information... and no one is charged with incompetence, fired, or even blamed.

2) David Petraeus, former director of the CIA, gave classified information to his biographer/mistress to make him seem more powerful... he pleads guilty, gets a $40,000 fine and 2 years probation.

3) Edward Snowden releases summary information about widespread illegal activity by the U.S. spy services. No specifics about operations or personnel were leaked, resulting in no deaths and no aborted operations(*) ...he's banished from the U.S.

4) Chelsea [nee Bradley] Manning releases video evidence of war crimes committed by the U.S. military, literally gunning down members of the international press and other civilians with no provocation... was subjected to months of cruel and unusual punishment (tortured, per U.N. definition of torture), sentenced to 35 years in prison, and given dishonourable discharge.

  (*) Quoth the office of the president: "Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country..."

Comment Browsing with mosquitoes (Score 4, Insightful) 257 257

I had to look it up also.

An "interstitial" pops up before the page you want, or a few seconds after.

It's a speed-bump in reading the website: stop, grab the mouse, find the close mark, get rid of the thing, and continue.

It's basically adding mosquitoes to your browsing experience.

(Some of them don't even have the "X" corner icon. You have to choose one of the presented links to close.)

Comment Re:the key here is "lawful" (Score 1) 80 80

and just because many things in the west that are OK or even normal are viewed as being criminal in certain countries is the fault. Oh what a web of lies we must tell ourselves so we can sleep at night knowing our product kills innocents.

Okay then, let's look at this from the perspective of morality.

One very good theory of morality is based on suffering.

The exploits of Hacking Team have greatly increased the suffering of a large number of people, while other actions they could have taken (such as reporting their exploits so that vendors can fix them) would have reduced that same suffering.

This is the definition of evil under the that theory: when your actions cause increased suffering of many people, it's evil.

Yes, there are corner cases and nuanced situations (such as the suffering of a caught criminal), but overall it's a good working definition and under that definition Hacking Team is [was] evil.

Or we could look at this from the perspective of Christian ethics.

According to Father Guido Sarducci, sins have penitant value. Lying is worth a dollar, killing is worth $50,000, and masturbation is something like $0.50.

(Yes, I'm referring to the selling of indulgances by the Catholic church.)

The exploits of Hacking Team have caused the torture and death of people. Hacking Team probably has an ecumenical debt worth millions of dollars.

This is the definition of sin under the that theory: when your actions damage society so much that you must atone by donating large sums of money to charity.

This is another good working definition and under that definition Hacking Team has racked up an enormous bank account of sin.

Hacking Team should vanish, we'd be all the better for it.

Comment Re:Good (Score 3, Insightful) 272 272

If you're on public land, you don't get an expectation of privacy.

I've often heard this repeated, but is it actually true?

Suppose I'm in a public space (say, a park) having a quiet conversation with someone, and keeping track of passersby: If someone walks up we stop talking.

Does this mean that someone (from the government) with a parabolic mic can eavesdrop on my conversations without a warrant?

The argument is that it's only what a policeman would hear if he walked up and listened, but in that case we would stop talking.

I have every expectation of privacy if I take steps to ensure that privacy: looking around to make sure no one can see me, for instance. Does this mean that the police can video-tape the sidewalk from the window of any office building without a warrant?

I also note that there's no expectation of privacy *in your home* if you don't have the drapes closed. The implication is that we don't have an expectation of privacy *anywhere*, except in our homes and only if we're concealed.

Does that sound like a free country?

If you're on public land, you don't get an expectation of privacy.

In any event, we shouldn't be mindlessly repeating that meme as if it's the "law of the land". The more you say it, it only makes more people believe it.

Instead, we should be mindlessly repeating things things that sway public perception in a better direction.

Comment Re:Forget party, all that (Score 1) 21 21

What's so damned special about relationships? If it's about equality, then tell me, why does a childless married couple pay less in tax than a widow with a child who earns the same as the couple? I'd say the widow's relationship to the child matters to society, the couple's relationship doesn't matter to anyone but them.

Why is it legal to discriminate on the basis of marriage?

Why does any government in a secular country have anything at all to do with marriage?

Comment Re:I've said it before (Score 1) 391 391

and I'll say it again - technology INCREASES jobs, never decreases it - over the long term. Over the short term it can make certain skills worthless, putting some people out of work, but that's it.

If your position is correct, the number of jobs in Agriculture has increased over the long term.

So, for instance, the number of people working on farms has increased over the last century or so.


Comment Got any real info? (Score 2) 459 459

He and his within 5 second +5 'insightful' posse.

I'm curious about what you said.

Is this something you've noticed anecdotally, or do you have a screen scraping program that loads and interprets slashdot conversations? (Or something else?)

I'd be very interested in statistics about this sort of thing. Anything that throws light on how certain subjects get modded up, correlations of moderator accounts that don't post, and so on.

There's a lot of activity here that seems anecdotally suspicious. It'd be nice to know whether this is due to random clustering or some type of organized push.

Do you have any statistical support?

Comment Re:Good (Score 2) 459 459

Want to really fight ISIS? We'll need Iran and Syria as allies if you actually want to win.

Why do we have to fight ISIS at all?

Everyone over there hates us, other first world countries won't lend a hand, and in the long run the barbarism of ISIS won't withstand the onslaught of more developed ideas.

Thinking that we will prevent the conflict from coming over here is fantasy storytelling: all our draconian infrastructure didn't prevent the shoe bomber, underwear bomber, or marathon bomber - even when we were warned about those specific threats beforehand.

What's the compelling reason to do anything in the middle east? If the ISIS neighbor countries are good with it, if the European nations think it's none of their business, if it's extremely expensive, if meddling in their affairs will only make them hate us more... why not just ignore ISIS?

What's the benefit in fighting ISIS?

Comment Doctors always know best (Score 1) 191 191

While it is true that there are doctors working while they themselves are not feeling well, you guys gotta understand that doctors have to face sick people ALL THE TIME, which means they have higher chance of getting infected with diseases, which means they have to spend more times feeling unwell

It is always so easy to criticize someone of doing something but why is it there is no mention of what makes that someone do that something in the first place?

Because doing so implies that it's OK because it has a justification. "Hey, it's OK for doctors putting us at risk, because they have a really good reason".

This is a clear-cut example of that "needs of the many" thing. Yes, doctors encounter sickness more often then average. Yes, that probably means they get sick more often. Yes, their work is really hard.

Does the inconvenience of one doctor outweigh the inconvenience of 5 patients catching what he's got?

I once read a study where doctors refuse to use checklists, despite abundant evidence that doing so would reduce the incidence of hospital errors.

The reason? Doctors simply didn't want to use them - they felt that they were good enough not to need them.

(That was awhile ago - now checklists are starting to catch on.)

Comment Re:So does this qualify as 'organic'? (Score 5, Interesting) 279 279

So, I'm all for grow local, but when there's sun shining right outside - this doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me... unless you are a company that sells grow lights.

You have a point, but you also have to consider the context of comparison.

Plants grown outdoors face an array of problems that the farmer has to account for. Keeping insects off, keeping weeds at bay, keeping the plants watered and fertilized - all this comes at a cost to the farmer.

Indoor farming requires a more expensive infrastructure (the building, trays, and plumbing) but has great savings in some of the other areas. It's easier to keep weeds and insects out, for instance.

Of particular note, outdoors you can't recycle unused water or fertilizer, but this can be done indoors. Collect any unused water after the plants have drunk their fill, remove waste products, top off the fertilizer, and reuse.

So the economic question is this: is the extra money/effort spent on generating light compensated for by the savings in insecticides, roundup, fertilizer, and water?

I think the answer is probably "yes", given that LED lights are incredibly efficient. (Also of note: less of the environment is damaged by excess fertilizer and water drainage. Damaging the environment indirectly costs money.)

Then the next question is with the building: does it make sense to have big windows and use mostly solar light, and adjust as needed with indoor lighting?

Windows cost more than walls, they require extra heating and/or air conditioning, they're not as structurally sound, and the light isn't used efficiently in the 3-d volume; meaning, you can't grow corn on each story of a 5-story building, because the first layer will shade the ones below it. (And windows break, they have to be cleaned, they tend to leak, &c.)

It may be more economically sensible to grow corn in a 5-story warehouse close to a city simply because it reduces the transport costs. It also reduces the amount of land used - allowing more plots to go back to the wild.

And on top of all of this, researchers I've talked to are doing clever things with the light recipe they're giving to plants.

Some plants detect the reddening of the sun and "go to sleep" at sunset. By adjusting the light color, you can keep the plants growing 18 hours a day and then blast them with excess red light to get them to quickly go into night mode. This increases yield by reducing the growing period of their crops.

(A bunch of other experiments are really interesting, such as: hitting the crops with a particular frequency of light to cause their ripening flavors to go into overdrive, making a crop that is inordinately tasty.)

So in summary, we should do the economic experiment and see if it's viable, but in toto there's a lot to recommend indoor industrial gardening.

Comment You don't understand the universe (Score 1) 234 234

True wisdom requires the humility to see the universe for what it is... a step beyond our reason... always and forever.

I heartily endorse that statement, and encourage you to teach it to your children.

(My children, on the other hand, will be competing with yours in the global society and I want to give them the best chance of success.)

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.