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Comment "Not wanting to be forced to buy health insurance. (Score 1) 723 723

You might be interested to know that in 1792, a Congress chock full of members of the founding generation, passed a law to implement the 2nd amendment, the first sentence of which reads "A well regulated militia being necessary to the national defense", mandating that every able bodied person (they meant men) to own or acquire a gun and provide powder and shot for it and to present it for inspection by militia leaders on demand. So, the founders, who had just gotten finished ratifying the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, were quite OK with mandating that the citizens buy or do something that they might not ordinarily do or want to do. Given the requirements of defense in 1792 and the requirements to not, for instance, leave folks on the road after an automobile accident if they can't prove they can pay for treatment, I don't think the founders would disagree much with a mandate to have health health insurance one way or another.

Comment Re:Come on. (Score 1) 90 90

Well, you may be right in an ideologically pure world, but that world doesn't actually exist, and you should perhaps think about what is required by the real world. (Further, government has a legitimate role in supporting the economy when the failures that you say Capitalism needs overcome Capitalism's ability to recover. Read up on the Great Depression, and remember that Capitalism's self recovery mechanisms were too feeble to get us out of the Depression. What got us out was the grand daddy of all government stimulus programs, WWII, after which the US was deeper in debt, as a percentage of post-war GDP, than it is today. We paid our way out of that one by raising taxes which coincided with a period of great American prosperity. Kind of knocks the wind out of the "lower taxes to create jobs" sails, dontcha know.) To return to the topic at hand, to keep America strong and competitive from a strategic point of view. Sure, most companies that can't justify themselves should and are allowed to fail, but we need some strategic capabilities that we can't allow ourselves to lose. There have been many examples where the government had stepped in to do things, including propping up companies, that were required for the strategic advancement of the countries. I'll start with the building of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860's, which was paid for by granting 10-square-mile alternating sections along the right of way through the great plains and elsewhere that the railroad companies then sold to farmers who would benefit from having a rail road close by to get their goods to market. The government then proceeded to essentially rebuild these railroads at taxpayer expense for WWI and WWII, to the benefit of the private railroad companies, because of national strategic need. The railroads certainly weren't and couldn't make the necessary investments. Good thing the government did this, or you might have learned German in high school instead of French or Spanish. For background, read "Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow" by Dee Brown. There are other examples, but no room and little time to write about them.

Comment Re:Come on. (Score 2) 90 90

Good point. The whole country ought to be real glad the government got involved in saving GM rather than letting it go into liquidation or be bought by the Chinese. In addition to saving a whole lot of jobs, it also helped hold an important industrial base in American hands. And on top of that, the taxpayers made money on the deal as GM recovers and pays off what the taxpayers chipped in to safe this company.

Comment Re:The bigotry really bothers me (Score 1) 895 895

You asked how the Texas School Board was promoting revisionist history that was out of touch with the facts. I'll cite one example: The Texas School Board asserts that the founders didn't mean to have a strong seperation between church and state. The facts are they embedded in the Consitution in the last paragraph of Article 6 that there will be no religious test to hold any office reaching all the way down to state legislatures. And, as is much better known, the first amendment says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. These mean that not only can a Bhudhist, a Hindu, an Athiest, a Jain or an adherent of any other religion can hold office and that they may not pass any law or regulation that respects or with respect to any religion. Further, many of the founders clearly were not fans of religion. One quote I remember from Thomas Jefferson (you may have heard of him and his impact as one of the founders, although the Texas School Board seems to want to eliminate mention of his influence) is: "In every day and every age the priests have been the enimies of liberty." It's not well known - one has to dig into the facts of the time, that is, do a little historical research - to know that until 1790, the residents of MA were being taxed by the gov't to support the Calvinist (Puritan) church, a practice that was stopped due to the founders insistance on a seperation between church and state. This is just one example of the efforts by the Texas school board to play fast an loose with the facts in order to promote their conservative religious ideology. There are other examples. For instance, the TSB wants to call the Atlantic Slave Trade the "Atlantic Triangle Trade." It was, in fact, a slave trade. To sugar coat these kinds of things prevents our children from leaning about the corrosive effects of slavery and racism in American history and how we can make this great country even greater if we are aware of our past, both the glorious as well as the inglorious aspects.

Comment Re:Can this be legally challenged? (Score 1) 895 895

I wonder if the proponents of the new Texas standards have ever actually read the Constitution. In particular, the last paragraph of Article 6 includes " religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." That means that a Hindu, Bhudist, Athiest, Jain or the adherent of any religion, or lack thereof, may assume any office from local congressman or judge on up. And certainly none would be allowed to administer or legislate his religion into law or policy by the 1st amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Seems to me, Congress is not even allowed to respect religion, let alone be guided by it or create any policy or law based on its religious origins. Of course, conservative activist judges may see this differently as many have over the years.

Comment Re:The bigotry really bothers me (Score 1) 895 895

Firstly, I would queston your definition of a bigot. But let's go with it for a second. The reason most folks replying to this development don't qualify as bigots is that irrationality, required in your definition, is not part of thier arguments. The fact is, the Texas school board is teaching a revisionist history that is out of touch with the facts. The founding fathers really did intend a strong seperation of church and state. Ever read the Consitituion? It's in there in the statement that there will be no religious qualificacion for any federal office, which to them included congressional reps, as well as in the first ammendment which prohibited any law respection an establishment of religion. Pretty strong stuff. Further, renaming the slave trade the "Atlantic triangle trade" belies the point that the Southern economy, of which Texas was a part, prior to the Civil War was all about slaves and cotton, the latter not being nearly as profitable without the former. It's interesting that the new Texas standards require comparing Jeff Davis's inaugural with Lincoln's. They should compare the US Constitution with the Confederate Constitution (easily available on the web). The later is almost identical to the former except that the CSA Constitution enshrines slavery such that it may never be challenged. And of course, in my opinion, the Southern states, Texas included, forever gave away any claims the protection of thier "cherished institutions" on the basis of "States Rights" with the Dred Scott decision of 1856 in which they tried to cram slavery down the throats of all the Northern states in spite of any of their anti-slavery laws by saying that Southern Slavery could be enforced in the North because " negro had any rights that a white man was bound to respect." So, yes, folks who criticize the Texas school board's new standards on the basis that they are dishonest with the history of the country are not bigots by your definition because they are not irrational, a description that applies much more aptly to those on the Texas School Board who pushed these new standards through.

Comment Solutions Exist - But some oxes may get gored (Score 2, Interesting) 660 660

Having worked in a company that makes Ethernet adapters that implements IPsec offload, I can tell you EXACTLY what's holding up encryption across the network: Cisco and possibly a few other network hardware vendors. The problem is that they can't see into encrypted traffic, and they want to "own the network". If they can't see into the traffic for deep packet inspection, route optimization, traffic steering, etc. all their fancy hardware becomes pretty neigh useless. And encrypted traffic cannot be viewed by "lumps in the network". And these "lump makers" are, unfortunately, influential enough to make commercial implementation difficult by others. In fact, the best, most effective encryption is done as high up the stack as possible so as to protect the traffic from as many lower layers as possible. And, if you study the problem carefully, you'll see that you actually need encryption at several layers to properly protect the entire attack surface. But you either have to do this cleverly with existing protocols - possibly getting into vendor-specific solutions that would need to be standardized, - or create new protocols. Just applying SSL/TLS to everything is not the answer. As I said, solutions exist even at some large companies that could bring them to market inspite of Cisco. But to bring them to market, there needs to be some market pull from the user community for effective cross-network encryption, which, so far, does not exist.

The Perfect Way To Slice a Pizza 282 282

iamapizza writes "New Scientist reports on the quest of two math boffins for the perfect way to slice a pizza. It's an interesting and in-depth article; 'The problem that bothered them was this. Suppose the harried waiter cuts the pizza off-center, but with all the edge-to-edge cuts crossing at a single point, and with the same angle between adjacent cuts. The off-center cuts mean the slices will not all be the same size, so if two people take turns to take neighboring slices, will they get equal shares by the time they have gone right round the pizza — and if not, who will get more?' This is useful, of course, if you're familiar with the concept of 'sharing' a pizza."

NASA Tests Flying Airbag 118 118

coondoggie writes "NASA is looking to reduce the deadly impact of helicopter crashes on their pilots and passengers with what the agency calls a high-tech honeycomb airbag known as a deployable energy absorber. So in order to test out its technology NASA dropped a small helicopter from a height of 35 feet to see whether its deployable energy absorber, made up of an expandable honeycomb cushion, could handle the stress. The test crash hit the ground at about 54MPH at a 33 degree angle, what NASA called a relatively severe helicopter crash."

Comment CS Study Abroad (Score 1) 386 386

I spend a year studying for my computer science degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara at the University College of Wales in Aberystwith. It was one of the best years of my life, and, in addition to leaning a lot about the subject, I learned about it from a non-US-centric point of view, which was quite interesting. I also learned a lot about the local culture (Aberystwith had a non-university population of about 15,000 and 41 pubs) and made some life-long friends. If an opportunity to study abroad lands in your lap, you'd be a fool not to grab it with both hands and squeeze all you can out of it. You will be learning computer science for the rest of your career, but you don't get many chances to live in a student community in another country.

Comment Re:Parallax, touch screens, stupidity, and conspir (Score 1) 900 900

I'll keep this short. Firstly, "basic reasoning skills" as a bar is, as you seem to agree, arbitrary and difficult to define. Age, on the other hand, is objective and is based on our legal traditions going back centuries. It is also the basis of a legal definition of adulthood implying enforceabilty of contracts, legal liability, etc. While I agree there are a lot of 18-year-olds who don't have much judgement, they can at least put thier lives on the line in defense of the country in the military, and that carries some weight. To get back to basic reasoning skills, I can easily make an argument that the most erudite, educated, accomplished person who does not agree with me does not posess "basic reasoning skills". I might, were I in power, disqualify you. And you might disqualify me. What you seem to be arguing for is the establishment of something along the lines of, if not Plato's philosopher kings, at least political participation by those who some authority has deemed up to the task. The problem I have is that I wouldn't trust anyone to make that selection. You shouldn't either.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll