Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment Re:Just so you all know. (Score 4, Insightful) 359

The key here is the quotes around "fix". This disaster can't be completely fixed, so paying the costs of cleanup is far from being held responsible. Meanwhile plenty of people and groups have incurred costs because of the oil spill: people will see their property depreciate, companies will lose business, and institutions like the government will have spent plenty of money studying the spill and helping with cleanup. And, as GP says, these groups won't be able to recover their costs from BP because the courts will protect them.

If businesses are not held fully responsible for their damages then these damages aren't correctly valued in the economy, and thus there are incentives to take the sort of risks that cause oil spills.

Comment Re:Tim wants us to tell him why he's wrong (Score 1) 160

There are some companies that act as if they have this sort of duty. Really, I think we'll find that keeping users' interests in mind at least a little will help ensure long-term success; I don't think Facebook cares. It exists to make money as fast as possible. And that comes straight from the top. There are few tech entrepreneurs I respect less than Zuckerberg.

Comment Re:FLOSS software? (Score 1) 356

1. The need for the "strictest animal welfare laws in the country" say a lot about standard practices in animal agriculture. The people that have designed them are not farmers, they are industrialists. Their portrayal of themselves as farmers, with a connection to traditional methods of raising food and care for the land, allows them to get away with many things they couldn't otherwise. But they sure aren't living out there and seeing the consequences.

2a. The standard for whether poultry and egg operations are humane is not standard industry practice. The standard is humanity. The birds are still packed in far denser than they can handle. This has serious consequences for their social development. Many turn to fighting and even cannibalism -- this is why they're often de-beaked (a truly fun and wholesome procedure for everyone involved, to be sure... similarly, pigs in tight conditions often have their tails removed to prevent behavior like tail-biting). Similar to grain monocultures there are poultry monocultures; both the "roasters" (birds raised for meat) and "layers" (birds raised for eggs) have been selectively bred to the point that they can hardly live healthy lives under the best of conditions. But even if you don't care about animal welfare at all, consider the problem: where does all the manure go? It's shoveled into giant, foul-smelling pits in the earth. And how about the spread of diseases among these birds? It's rampant. The manure pits become havens for bacteria and pollute the nearby water and air. Sometimes when there's not enough space in the pits they just spray it into the air. So (a) that's why you have to handle poultry so carefully and (b) that's why the incidence of asthma is so high near factory farms. In any other industry the pollution and disease potential would be regulated. But the lobbyists put on their overalls and say, "Aw, shucks, we don't know nothing about pollution except that we can't afford to prevent it." Meanwhile most of their neighbors don't have the money or clout to do anything about it.

2b. So in this case, what might disgust you, the crowding, the fighting, the smell (apparently it's so nauseating up close that it's caused workers to pass out, and then fall to their deaths in manure pits), is actually an indication that something's wrong. This is so obvious that operators of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs; this abbreviation is used by some because "farms" is really a misnomer) are extremely secretive about what actually goes on there. You can't just get a tour of the Tyson plant. Based on your comment, I'm assuming a neurosurgeon has consented to let you watch a surgery multiple times. The "disgust" here is just squeamishness.

3. So what, exactly, is the great advantage of the modern industrial omnivorous diet we have? It's not the welfare of animals, nor the welfare of workers. It's not the environment, local or global. If you count the subsidy dollars and various tax breaks it's probably not even a cost-efficient source of nutrition. Especially when typical consumption of protein and fat, at least in the USA, is far beyond what's necessary and health. So it's not our health, then, either. I'm a pretty fast runner (just ran 37 minutes for a hilly 10k above 5,000 feet altitude) and I dabble in the other triathlon sports -- point is I have greater nutritional needs than most people. I've been eating vegetarian for almost 6 years and I haven't had any problems fueling my body; I've set plenty of PRs in that time. I don't really see a great advantage to eating meat at all, certainly nothing that outweighs the destruction it causes. It's just convenience and tradition.

Comment Re:FLOSS software? (Score 1) 356

You may like to think that animals that are slaughtered for food suffer as little as possible but that's really not true. Their suffering is limited to the extent that it affects the final product. Actually, not even to that extent all the time. Reportedly factory-farmed pork suffers significantly in quality because of stress to the animals.

My understanding is that it's basically possible to eat beef from cows that have lived fairly decent lives (if not full ones -- even grass-fed cattle that wander huge and beautiful ranges are killed young). The majority of cattle raised in the US eat lots of grain, don't have enough room to graze, and don't get to form normal family and social bonds, but some do (you have to look for it). Here in Wyoming you can go to meat markets that will tell you which ranch your beef comes from and where it is. In some cases you can knock on the rancher's door and get a tour. This is what people tell me, at least (I eat vegetarian). Every ranch is different, obviously, but to some degree ranching practice is still passed down through family and community ties, and many ranch owners live on their ranches and do some of the physical work (this gives the decision makers a stake in the conditions affecting workers and the local environment that just doesn't exist for the people that set many intensive agriculture practices).

It's much harder with pork. If you want to eat pork that wasn't raised in sickening conditions (for the animals, the workers in the feed operations, and the environment) you really have to look hard. You'll have to pay a lot of money for the little pork you do eat. With poultry you're SOL unless you personally know the farmer. All the bullshit greenwashing you see on packages at the supermarket is simply that: bullshit greenwashing. "Cage Free" and "Free Range", as they affect poultry raising, are basically meaningless. All the big poultry operations are major corporations that will tell you anything to sell you something.

On the other hand, beef supposedly has a very high carbon footprint and unquestionably has an enormous land-use footprint. This means that it contributes enormously to habitat destruction and the loss of native grasses (so places like Wyoming and Texas used to have far more diverse meadows than they do now). The environmental consequences of intensive agriculture generally are pretty bad. Read about manure disposal practices on poultry and hog farms. Read about streams running red with bloodworms. Read about groundwater contamination. It's plain gross, and materially affecting the rural parts of our world. Then there are monocultures, unintentional gene patent infringement, and chemical runoff coming from grain agriculture.

It's just like a lot of our other conveniences that have nasty consequences. We have to weigh whether this convenience is worth it. The car culture has its conveniences, and it has consequences that are just reaching the shores of Louisiana. The transaction between a consumer and a corporate chicken producer, or between you and a car or oil manufacturer, will usually be mutually beneficial, but has externalities. Animals suffer, the environment is damaged, in many cases people suffer, too (have you ever lived next door to a modern hog feeding operation... or even driven through Iowa on a stuffy summer day?). If we could properly measure these externalities (including risk factors for things like oil spills) we could pay them as we manufacture, building in their costs. This would create an incentive for responsible behavior. Instead the government subsidizes and bails out the people that fuck up (subsidies and environmental allowances for factory farming practices, whether meat, dairy, eggs, fish, or grains, are criminal -- and we all know who ultimately foots the bill for oil spill cleanup, bank failures, etc.). This creates an incentive for irresponsible behavior. It needs to be fixed. Even the way we measure our economy is corrupt, as if all activity is equally good; making, taking, and breaking are all counted as one. It needs to be fixed.

I'm not going to be high and mighty because I'm a vegetarian that doesn't drive much. Those are pretty tiny sacrifices, and I will admit that I act selfishly all the damn time. I certainly won't insist that you eat vegetarian -- that would be hypocrisy -- just that you understand the facts. People will usually not go far out of their way for causes as remote as native grasses in Wyoming or wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico. We just won't. Hell, we don't know how to do that when the consequences of every commercial action can be so dire. So we must radically change how we account for externalities so that they show up in the bottom line.

Comment Re:Issue not with the passengers (Score 1) 357

Small-town airport with 3 flights a day? Could you be talking about Cody, Wyoming? Well, if you are, you may know that a couple years ago someone tried to board a plane in Cody carrying a wrapping paper tube he'd filled with toys for his kids or something. Security thought it might be a pipe bomb and shut down the airport and all roads within a mile of it. That includes the main route into town from the east and south.

So... that indeed sounds like a pretty big gap between treatment of passengers and employees. I also saw a woman wearing a TSA uniform enter an employees-only area by just reaching over a half-height door and flipping a latch (like you'd do to get a baseball out of the neighbor's yard).

Despite this gap, I've never heard of a terrorist plot by an airport employee and we've all heard of plenty of plots by passengers. Maybe they really screen their employees well enough that they can be trusted.

Comment Re:Just Think.. (Score 1) 799

That just doesn't pass the smell test to me. A lot of the slow progress on nuclear deployment has come because the costs to get a plant off the ground and insure it are so high. And even if nuclear power had made electricity cheaper, even now electricity is cheaper than internal combustion for transportation (it has been for a while IIRC). The difficulty has been building electric cars that are both good and cheap. The hardest parts of that, as I understand it, are battery tech and charging tech. They're just today becoming usable, and they're still not cheap. Do you think that having a somewhat cheaper electricity source would have made those things cheap and usable in the 80s? I sure don't.

Some absolute anti-nuke activists are misguided, sure. Some are NIMBYs -- as I can't imagine property values near a nuke plant going anywhere but down, NIMBYism is at least economically rational. Some are concerned about the unbounded risk of nuclear power and that the risk cannot be entirely borne by those responsible for it. And some are legitimately concerned that nuclear fuel is yet another (effectively) non-renewable resource, and one whose extraction could be ecologically dangerous.

The fact is that we're all responsible. We've all helped to create the "car culture", the unending sprawl that requires burning huge amounts of oil. We haven't enforced, though our politicians, that the risks of oil production must be paid for at the gas pump, so we've created an incentive to take risks in exploration. And here we are.

Comment I chose town because that's what people say... (Score 1) 515

... I don't really know how burg, hamlet, or village would be defined. We're probably a full town I guess. Almost 9,000 people, though our only industries to speak of are tourism, ranching, and mining (I think there are some minor industrial activities related to mining also); as tourism is the only one that takes place in town it's sort of a dead zone during the winter. 35 miles away there's a town of 200 (that one is probably a village). Another few miles farther than that in other directions are a couple towns around 5,000 people each. But you could say we have quite a lot of influence. Because 50 miles to the west is a volcano whose eruption could seriously disrupt life over much of the continent.

Comment Re:Social networks (Score 1) 295

Diaspora is a fine name. Crack a damn dictionary. So it's a four-syllable word that a lot of people don't know. It's also an actual word that has to do with the purpose of the site. So I think it's a fine name, but I also don't think it matters; if the site is good people will learn it.

A lot of open source projects have dumb names. All the KDE apps named as words with Gs replaced with Ks, and vice-versa with Gnome apps. The Crips and Bloods do the same thing, it's absolute silliness. Firefox is a pretty stupid and meaningless name (Mozilla is also meaningless, but at least it sounds cool). And that hasn't stopped its success.

Comment Re:Social networks (Score 1) 295

That isn't how Facebook started at all. Mark Zuckerberg was one of those people who was either going to get rich or scam a lot of people trying. He's managed to get rich, and at least be complicit in scamming a lot of people, so I'd say he's lived a pretty successful life.

What I'm talking about is that he was contracted to help build a similar site by some other people and deliberately sandbagged the work so he could build his own instead. Then he hacked into the email accounts of editors of the Harvard student paper for some reason I don't remember. Now he's exploiting his user base at every turn. The point is that Facebook was never a cute community project -- the goal from the beginning was to make lots of money. And that doesn't take a long, sustained success. Facebook will eventually fall; by that time the people that got in on the ground floor will have diversified their investments, and will never have to work again (unless the economy collapses really hard, which is always a possibility).

It's certainly possibly that a site started up with the best intentions could turn into the next Facebook. Similarly it's possible that a government started with the best intentions could turn into the next Stalinist Russia. Governments can try to limit their own power in constitutions but ultimately it comes down to people to make sure the government stays limited -- similarly, this new project can build in technical obstacles to central accumulation of power, but ultimately it comes down to the project's future leaders to make sure that it sticks with its principles.

Comment Re:Finally someone calls it out in public (Score 1) 850

I don't see how you responded to me at all. I'm hardly a free-market fundamentalist myself, and I don't think there's anyone that can or should force Apple to change their app store. Developers and users should put pressure on Apple to open up because it's good for them. This doesn't make them any more selfish than Apple itself, and to claim that it makes them "entitled" or "whiny", or that Apple's reasons for keeping the platform closed are noble as many defenders do, is silly.

For my part, I think a lot of the future of computing is going to take place on mobile devices. I'd like to see openness and interoperability, not the same stuff re-implemented in different languages for a series of closed platforms. Just a personal preference. I'll vote with my wallet and with my voice. Is that antithetical to a free market? I don't think so.

Comment Re:Finally someone calls it out in public (Score 1) 850

But isn't it silly that your app will be judged based on the dev tools you use, and not how good an app it is? With all the incredibly stupid crap that makes it into the app store, when a good app comes along, who cares if it was created with a third-party dev tool?

Yes, developers are being selfish. They want to make money, and the easiest way to do that is with a language they're comfortable with. Apple is being selfish, too. It wants to prevent itself from depending on providers of third-party dev tools and runtimes. The reasons it gives in public, based on things like software quality, are specious, and don't gel with Apple's past and present app approval behavior.

There's nothing wrong with being selfish. It's how businesses survive. I won't call the developers noble, nor Apple. I will say this about Apple: by putting itself in a position where it has to approve every app that can run on its devices it has made itself an arbiter of speech and expression. By not allowing any app stores besides its own, it has forced itself to *sell* or *ban* every app, with no middle ground. And, honestly, most apps ever made should logically fall into that middle ground. Not clearly great enough that Apple should give them strong marks of endorsement by selling them, but not bad enough to ban. This makes it hard to make consistent decisions. And Apple has several times equivocated on apps, and has been moved by outside pressure. So it's only logical for app developers to put pressure on Apple publicly.

For what it's worth, if I ever buy a cell phone, it won't be one that's closed off to development.

Comment Re:Yay ignorance. (Score 1) 372

This isn't about some desire to repress sexuality. Yes, porn should be sexual. And most adults are sexual beings -- we have sexual desires, we find each other attractive, we enjoy sex. This is good.

This isn't about the role of submission in porn, exactly -- if you're going to create appealing porn, there's a good chance someone is "taking it". It's quite possible to be dominant sexually while respecting your partner, and tending to his or her needs. Egalitarianism in sex doesn't mean nobody's on top (lots of great positions have someone on top!), or that everyone climaxes at the same time.

This is about the promotion of behavior of men in pornography that ranges from selfish to abusive. It's about labeling female participants "sluts". It's about the women in many films begging for and enjoying selfish and abusive treatment. These things aren't really specific to porn, even, porn is just where they're seen most graphically.

And it's not about what's in any one porn film. I think there's room for just about every kind of portrayal of people generally. But in the overall body of work you hear of the same patterns over and over again. It's the same thing in advertising, on TV, in movies. I think that speaks badly for our society, as it's at least as much a symptom as a cause of our attitudes, probably more. A non-porn example: the Beatles. You might hear one song, say, "Run for Your Life" (on Rubber Soul), and note that it's from the perspective of a downright abusive man. So it is; I guess a band might sing a song about anything. Then listen to some of their other songs and records from around the same time. It starts to get really creepy, far beyond the typical casual misogyny of early rock-and-roll.

That's why we need to acknowledge these sorts of portrayals, and what they say to us and others. Banning porn is almost never the answer (maybe never never?), but understanding its meaning, and trying to improve ourselves and our society is.

Comment Re:Yay ignorance. (Score 1) 372

You don't have to be an anti-porn crusade to recognize that most porn glorifies the objectification and exploitation of women. Really, I'd go beyond what most call porn and include many mainstream sexualized portrayals of women (especially in advertisements). To be sure, it's both a symptom and a cause of our society's ideas about women (and, thus, about men also) -- it's inevitably tied up in those things.

I'm not really sure what "debate" you're talking about. Should portrayals of naked people be banned on the grounds of obscenity? Hell, no. Should exploitative portrayals of people generally be noted and shamed? Hell, yes, wherever they're seen.

Comment Re:From Office of Making Things Unnecessarily Smal (Score 1) 302

Are iPads tied to mobile data plans like iPhones? If so, there's your answer. Makes it somewhat harder to swap in other SIMs, as hacking a SIM down to a MicroSIM is (for most people) a one-way process, and also surely voids the warranty (it might even be a breech of your cell contract).

Slashdot Top Deals

Disc space -- the final frontier!

Working...