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Comment Re:Gotta love... (Score 1) 1131

LanMan04, unfortunately, if there is one thing I have learned from studying how/why/when people cling to certain religions or other superstitious beliefs, it is that rational analysis consistently cannot reach them. They have sealed themselves into an emotive faith, and even attacking the fidelity of their faith becomes meaningless. Finding what they claim to love (their texts, their church, their families) and then clearly demonstrating to them how their clinging to their personal superstitions actually fly in the face of their texts, the advice of their church and the welfare of their families nets zero impact because the people in question blissfully close their minds and tune out your demonstrations.

I think Carl Sagan put it best in his Cosmos series (ep 3, "Harmony of the Worlds", ~28:47) when he said "Superstition is a natural refuge for people who are powerless". Once people feel sufficiently disconnected from the job of empirical information gathering, insulated from the realities around them, they turn inwards and perceive what is in their hearts as the ultimate arbiter of truth. Whence comes "Truthiness".

So religious proponents care not for either facts in the observable universe, or even internal consistency. They would be content to preach peace at the precise same moment as they jab out their parents' eyes with a #2 pencil. It doesn't even rate as "doublethink" or "cognitive dissonance" as it requires neither effort nor discomfort to be inconsistent when one honestly lacks the presence of mind required to compare one's claims with one's behavior.

This allows Muslims to threaten cartoonists with the wrathful violence of pacifists. This allows Palins to claim that Christianity is the national religion of a country founded on the principal of the separation of church and state. This allows "Christians" to have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2) and to call themselves Christians, even fight bloody wars over the matter, without so much as knowing what the word "Christ" refers to. They might say, "Oh, that's Jesus!" and many will even think that's his surname. None have the vaguest clue what a "Christ" or "Mesiah" is, or why Jesus and his followers through the centuries claim that title applies to him.

Instead, your average Christian simply thinks of their faith as "being patient and nice to people" and following certain traditions. They think that "Jesus" and "God" and in some cases Mary, saints, angels and cherubs are vague deities that love and protect them unconditionally. Church is just this place they can go to socialize with people as insecure and superstitious as they are. They find The Bible to be no more required reading than a computer's user manual, and simply bathe themselves (selectively) in the words of whatever preacher performs at their church to remain in step with the shared, agreed upon superstitions. Most entertaining of all, their favorite sport is to invent moral high horses against which to judge one another (in direct contradiction to Matthew 7:1-5)

No, we cannot hope to sway the fickle desires of such mislabeled neo-pagans with calls to logic or fidelity. I think they'll need to be rendered obscolete and neutralized via some other social or ecomomic process instead. :(

How Do You Deal With Sensitive Data? 226

imus writes "Just wondering how most IT shops secure sensitive data (customer records). Most centrally managed databases seem to be monitored and maintained very well and IT workers know when they are tampered with or when unauthorized access occurs. But what about employees who do legitimate selects from these databases and then load CSV files and other text files onto their laptops and PDAs? How are companies dealing with situations where the database is relatively secure, but end-use devices contain bits and pieces of sensitive business data, and sometimes whole segments? Does anyone use sensitive data discovery software such as Find_SSNs or Senf or other tools? Once found, how do you deal with it? Do you force encryption, delete it or prevent extracts?"
Operating Systems

VMware ESXi Available For Free Starting Today 241

Mierdaan writes "VMware's bare-metal hypervisor is available for free starting today. ESXi, which can either be installed or run from an embedded device available in certain servers, has a 32MB footprint and gives small businesses an easy way to get into the virtualization world, with easy upgrade paths to enterprise-level features such as (H)igh (A)vailability and (D)istributed (R)esource (S)cheduler. ESXi runs on most any hardware with a server-class disk controller, and previously retailed for $495. VMware is obviously shooting to prevent Microsoft's Hyper-V technology from gaining a foothold in the marketplace."

Software Patent Sanity on the Way? 157

Ars Technica is reporting that the traditionally silent US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may be starting to turn things around. It seems that in recent action the USPTO has started to make it much easier to invalidate software patents with some saying that the abolition of such patents may be in the distant future. "Duffy cites four recent cases that illustrate the Patent Office's growing hostility to the patenting of software and other abstract concepts. While the USPTO hasn't formally called for the abolition of software patents, the positions it took in these cases do suggest a growing skepticism. In the first two cases, decided last fall, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (which has jurisdiction over patent appeals) upheld patent rejections by the USPTO. They were not software patent cases, as such. In In Re Nuijten, the court considered a patent related to an algorithm for adding a watermark to a digital media file. The Federal Circuit did not invalidate the claims relating to the watermarking algorithm itself; everyone seemed to agree that the algorithm was patentable. Rather, the decision focused on whether a digital signal could be the subject of a patent claim. The court concluded that it could not. A victory for common sense, perhaps, but hardly a rejection of software patents."

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982