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Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1) 493

It is hard to believe that someone like Jesus would have been worthy of much note in his own lifetime being executed as a not-very-dangerous rebel after a short ministry in a backwater province filled with itinerant prophets, rebels, and preachers, but it is similarly hard to believe that such a person could not have existed either.

And while there's no good reason to assume his existence also validates the claims made for him, it seems pretty clear to me that the only good reason to doubt his very existence is simply to make some sort of point, usually due to hostility or skepticism of the religion that he was the cause of. And that's just as much bias as you'd expect from the other direction as you'd get from a believer who was doing their own "history".

Even the earliest and most troublesome (for orthodox believers) manuscripts of the New Testament don't deviate in the slightest in accepting the existence of their subject, even if they have different things to say about what he did or what he *was*. And consider that in about AD 120 when the first collected books of the New Testament were almost certainly in existence, there were people around whose parents or grandparents likely were disciples of the man. You wouldn't be able to just make this guy up from whole cloth. And you wouldn't need to.

Very simply, the best evaluation of what evidence we have is that there was this guy named Joshua in first century Judea and Galilee. He preached and was likely executed as a political criminal by the Roman Imperial government. His followers believed he was the Son of God and founded a religion that became Christianity. And that is about as simple as a story as you can make it, which to me seems like the most likely history by far.

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1) 493

Eh, the Shroud of Turin probably has a more exciting history than just about any single piece of cloth that was ever produced by mankind. Not only was it moved from places unknown to Constantinople, where it was involved in a fire and a few sackings, it was then shipped out from there to Italy and that was all centuries before it stayed in one place. It was probably never the best item to use carbon dating on. Doubts will continue to linger on that one.

As for the Tomb of "Jesus", good grief.... A tomb for Joshua son of Joseph in Israel is like finding a headstone for John Smith. You'd actually have to be more uneducated than otherwise to actually let that one get by without an huge amount of skepticism.

Anyway, none of that, nor this Koran copy point at anything other than their existence. It's not like they dated the Koran copy to be completely outside of Mohammed's lifetime. Since when does anyone who understands dating methods assume that the earliest date in the range proves anything?

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 4, Informative) 493

There is really no reason for it to shake their faith.

The margin of error only starts before Mohammed was born, but his whole lifetime is comfortably within the margin of error. And while this is probably not the one he wrote or received, there were definitely early copies, of which there were probably many of by the time he died, considering his eventual position as ruler of a number of united tribes and prophet of an up and coming religion.

So, this is not news at all. It's like saying that Jesus was disproved by saying that the original Bible was written somewhere between 10 BC and 60 AD. Some people need to understand what a "margin of error" is.

Comment Re:Should get a "Burner" phone (Score 1) 166

They can probably still track the phone if the battery is in. There may even be a way for them to turn it on remotely to listen to you, but its unclear if that ability really exists or if it is quite what people believe it to be. I can totally believe that they could certainly track you while it is "off", but turning on your phone to listen to you seems like something that doesn't come built in, they probably need to get special software on the phone to do that.

Of course, the question is, "what does the Off switch really do?" If it cuts the power to all components, then yes, it is a brick and they can't track it unless it has a chip or something in it that they can bounce some active signal off of.

If the switch merely tells the software to "execute the lowest power mode", but the phone is still getting juice, then it is possible that the phone could receive a command to turn on, or that it could turn itself on periodically and report or accept remote commands. It's my understanding that most smart phones "off switches" are designed in this manner, not the previous manner. In that case, you need to remove the battery or let the battery run down completely and leave it that way for a few weeks, just to be sure.

Of course, if you don't want to be tracked by your cell phone, then don't take it with you everywhere. I still remember quite clearly when I didn't have a phone in my pocket every day.

Comment Re:Is this even legal? (Score 1) 166

To resemble East Germany, you don't simply need surveillance, you need a huge number of informants (something like 2-3% of the whole population) placed everywhere who are paid and willing to rat you out to the state.

The US isn't going to be approaching that ratio of informants to citizens any time soon, and until then, the US will not approach East Germany in the manner you suggest.

The US government can run wiretaps, and drones and directional mics all it wants, but we're not talking about even close to the amount of resources needed to make a real surveillance state. Someone having some data on what might be you isn't the same thing as a guy in your workplace who knows you and who knows when it is time to call in the Stasi to detain you because you slipped and said something in their presence or worse, trusted them for some reason.

The Feds watching Burning Man is pretty much chicken shit. They make sure that no one sets up a massive drug concession stand and no one is going to set off a bomb or something. BFD. Call me when they actually try and tell those people what to think or do while high and naked on the playa.

Comment Re:Fascist bastards ... (Score 2) 166

Well, you can't fight the system by being downtrodden and revolting. The system is excellent at overcoming people in that position, because that is how it maintains power day after day.

Real change starts in the places that the system is poorly designed to control, often from within. That's why real change is driven by the middle class and rich people. It does sometimes get out of control, like in the French Revolution. At that point, it becomes whoever can reassert order by force.

The only exception is when it is so bad that *everyone* revolts, but most people fear that scenario more than a police state because you don't really know where the battle lines are and so you and your family end up in a bloodbath that you aren't safe from anywhere.


Comment Re:15? (Score 2) 333

You certainly could boot DOS, but then you were using DOS, not Win95. Win95 was not "running on top of DOS" in the same way that 3.1 was.

As others have said, it had its own memory manager and disk access, which is pretty much what DOS did (in a crappier way). So, if you booted DOS, you weren't booting the lower levels of Win95, you were booting DOS 7.0: another operating system entirely which Win95 just happened to be very backward compatible with, boot-loaded from and was used for 16-bit driver access.

Some details:

Comment Re:What you want to believe doesn't make it true. (Score 1, Offtopic) 333

As a person who was a Mac user at the time (actually working on Mac support at my college Helpdesk), I can tell you that Win95 had its issues, but it was an order of magnitude better than DOS. In short, it didn't quite catch up in terms of usability to a Mac, but it got to that level of "good enough" combined with the power ramp-up and commoditization of the Wintel hardware that allowed it to bury the old Macs.

Also, the advent of Linux gave the humble Wintel box a legitimately useful UNIX-like OS. So, between Win95 and Linux you had a cheap and potentially powerful platform with a choice of what you'd run.

The Mac was always more innovative, but it stalled and eventually coasted into near-oblivion until Jobs came back and they started working on OSX in earnest.

For my part, I got to the point where I used Macs until just after I got out of college and between being forced to use a PC in the workplace (for Windows and Linux) and the relative lack of games and applications in general, I simply bought a PC after my PowerMac died. I knew enough about computers in general to overcome the rough edges of Windows so it was not a big deal. I really haven't looked back since. I think current Macs are good equipment with a good OS, but they just aren't worth the extra money and the inability to simply replace my own parts if they start acting up. I doubt I'll bother with them again in their current consumer toy incarnation.

I do enjoy my iPhone for what it is worth, though. After all, the iPhone feels like what Jobs was always trying to go for: a walled garden consumer appliance that just sort of worked, which I think they've succeeded at for the most part.

Comment Re:anti H1B job protectionism (Score 1) 129

Sixty years is nothing. Just about anything can work for a handful of decades if there is enough will behind it. Ultimately you build up an unstable exclusionary area that keeps wages and value artificially high and something comes through and knocks it over, hard.

The reason that Japan and China are now competing with us is the fact that they have low priced labor that can do many things that workers in Western countries did do which is non-complex and required little skill, but still paid well. We attempted to keep our wages artificially high through regulations and contract negotiations. We see how that worked out.

Now, if you're talking about strategic regulation of certain resources, that is a different beast. You need to have locally grown food, so you ensure it is grown here. You want locally drilled oil, so you drill locally. But that's about maintaining a strategic reserve, not about maintaining high wages. You are willing to pay more for locally sourced goods and services, but there's a limit to what is needed for that and more importantly, what the market can bear. That's why you have migrant workers on our farms, we need to not import food, but US workers either don't want to do that work, or they don't want the crap pay that comes with it.

Sure, certain regulations might keep farms or *corporations* in the US, but they don't keep wages high. You can't make a competitive product with high wages unless those wages are borne out by the market.

As I said, anything can work for awhile, but ultimately protectionism either falls or your economy ceases to grow in those sectors. There's only so much of something that you can sell within your own borders at rates inflated by artificially high labor costs. Certainly, no one needs to put up with that with software, which is absurdly easy to import.

Comment Re:What is UNUSUAL (Score 2) 262

The state does have the right and the ability to level charges without the permission of the victims. There are numerous reasons for that.

While it does take the morality of the prosecution down a notch, legally there is nothing odd about prosecuting a crime that the charges are leveled by the state against the victim's request.

The state may well determine that allowing the crime to go unpunished hurts the ability for order to be maintained, and it may also determine that the victim has been forced to decide between their own hurt and some other issue (such as not wanting Assange to go to jail, or not wanting to become seen as the excuse for some sort of US action). None of these considerations should be allowed to prevent prosecution of a crime because they set up scenarios where perpetrators may create situations where victims become unable to request redress under the law.

For instance, Assange might carry out what is a rape under statute, but having assaulted women who believe heavily in what Wikileaks was trying to do, he has the ability to turn the prosecution of his actual crime into a political situation where the women might well feel that they should let him off for the greater good.

I'm not saying that is how it happened, but there have been criminals throughout history who have been adept at setting up situations where they can perpetuate crimes against their victims, but the victims will still stand up for the criminal if outsiders step in.

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