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Comment The energy supplier thing is happening in US, too. (Score 1) 173

In the UK, for instance, for a period of many years door-to-door cold callers would attempt to persuade people to change their energy suppliers. Even if a resident was NOT interested, these callers would claim to need a signature so they could prove they had visited, and get paid.

Just had one of those here in the San Francisco Bay Area, like within the last couple weeks. Claimed to be "checking" that we were "getting the government required 20% discount". Tried to get us to sign a form that would switch our gas supplier from PG&E to some pseudo-ecological-responsibility gas supplier (using the common gas distribution system).

Comment Re:Summed up in verse (Score 4, Interesting) 142

Just wait for the tech support calls where people complain they can't watch porn anymore... they're setting themselves up for the swiftest kick in the ass ever by the general public. That's the problem with filtering that runs on the connection instead of the computer. But hey, at least some ISPs will benefit: Namely the ones selling VPN accounts. Oh, and Tor looks to boost its numbers some more. Ever since the NSA took a big shit in the information super pool, Tor's seen an explosion of exit nodes and bridges... I gotta say, it's almost reasonably fast now for regular internet, with a few tweaks to your browser to pipeline requests...

Thanks Britain! You're unwittingly supporting terrorism, organized crime, software and multimedia piracy, citizens' right to privacy and managing to piss off over half the internet population by messing with their porn. Bravo! By weeks' end you'll be less popular than the Americans with their NSA surveillance program.

Comment Re:polite - yet cutting and informative (Score 5, Insightful) 1501

The English have mastered delivering withering insults very politely. Simply being polite does not make you "nice". Is it more "professional" to wrap your disdain for an idea in language that is courteous on the surface? Maybe. Is the emperor going to change? Unlikely.

They got nothing on the French. Voltaire's criticism led to suicides. But regardless, this represents a change in Linus' historical behavior. It could just be stress, or it could hint at the onset of a mental illness. Increased aggression, changes in mood or attitude, impaired judgement, black and white or "us versus them" thinking... while many might chalk this up to poor manners on the internet, it could hint at something more substantial.

Either way, people are focusing on the behavior, but are neglecting to take notice of the fact that while the kernel-dev mailing list has always been, achem, heated... this is still a significant departure from baseline -- it's starting to make headlines in a big way too. People do not simply wake up one day and decide they're going to be abusive assholes -- there are triggers, changes to the person's environment or biology.

Separately, I'm not sure abusive language is ever good for the long-term health of a cooperative project -- it may not be a professional environment, but it's not exactly amateur hour either. Repeated abuse and disrespect is not conducive to a productive and cooperative environment. See also: The reason why there are so many flavors of BSD.

Comment Matt, wake up. (Score 1) 218

. He worries that social media encourages us to create "surrogate versions" or "celebrity versions" of ourselves

It's common knowledge that in a new relationship, the first year with someone you don't really meet them, just their representative. Everyone puts on a different face in public, or for new people. This isn't news to anyone who isn't Forever Alone guy. Social media doesn't "encourage" us; We already do it anyway. Social media just allows this to be more transparent.

It's no surprise Facebook doesn't have a "dislike" button, or that there's no notification if someone "unfriends" you or blocks you. Even the website itself tries to hide negativity. Everyone lies. Ask any interrogator. Every, mother effing one of you is a liar. Of course, it's mostly small lies, like how girls lie about their age or guys lie about how great they are at sex, or how we lie about how much we're enjoying it anyway... oh and the list goes on... those are just stereotyped examples.

Social media didn't create this trend, Matt. Hop in your TARDIS and fly back a thousand years and you'll have Kings and Queens demanding the painters take a few extra pounds off their royal portraits...

Comment Re:Arab potential (Score 4, Interesting) 156

Then around 800 years ago it all seems to have gone wrong. "Trouble in the Middle East" has been a newspaper headline since the invention of the newspaper. Personally I would love to know what changed 800 years ago as it might give a clue as to how to make it right again.

I know I'm going to get mod-bombed to hell and gone for this, but christianity happened. There's an old African proverb, "Once we had the land and the white man had the bible. Now we have the bible and the white man has the land." The Arabs were busy unlocking scientific secrets and storing up knowledge during that time out of necessity -- it's not a forgiving land. It has limited resources, and if you aren't smart about managing it, you die. Generations of resource scarcity meant that their culture stressed history. The first written languages came from the same region. Moving from a barter economy to a cash economy also came from there. And the thing is, this knowledge was shared -- it wasn't kept secret, or considered blasphemous per-se. Not like it was in Europe where the idea that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe nearly got Copernicous nailed to a cross anyway.

The Christians made numerous attempts to send armies into their lands -- and failed each time. But although the military campaign failed, the cultural changes that contact with them brought was ruinous to their civilization in the long-run. Think of it as being a bit like how America reacted to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 -- they really hadn't much exposure to terrorism before, so their first real taste of it caused a massive overreaction that has crippled the economy, sent millions into poverty, and triggered far-reaching changes in their way of life. But in reality, it was just a couple dozen guys who knocked down a few buildings. It did more damage though than fifty hurricanes.

There's plenty of other historical examples too -- Japan and China's isolationist policies, for example. When America steamed into Japan, they forced them to open their borders, and thousands of years of culture caught fire and burned in a matter of years. Similar things have happened to China repeatedly when people have crossed the mountains into their territory.

Cultural contamination is what brought them down -- specifically, from European christians.

Comment Re:I'm amazed..this is on slashdot. (Score 3, Funny) 1737

Three: If you don't care, go back in your browser. You do not need to click on every link on slashdot! DO NOT CLICK ON THE ONES YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT!

This is the internet, man. Everyone's gotta have an opinion... and worse, they're only a click away from putting it on the screens of thousands. Your advice is falling on deaf ears. Hey look everyone -- a single mother! (grabs pitchfork and runs out of the comment thread)

Comment Re:I'm amazed... (Score -1, Redundant) 1737

Try to get your facts straight.

It doesn't really matter as far as my point is concerned. LA could have slid into the ocean right after, or went right on as if nothing had happened... it has no real bearing on what happened to OJ's career. But kudos on pointing that out. +1, informative. But... -1, redundant too...

Comment Re:Oh grow up (Score 0) 569

You talk about the median but then compare using the mean for some reason. The median of the numbers you gave is 5, which is by definition representative of those numbers.

You really need to check out what Median means. Specifically, "the median is the numerical value separating the higher half of a data sample, a population, or a probability distribution, from the lower half. " So if the lowest number is 1 and the highest number is 100, the median is 50, even if the set is 1,1,1,{...},1,100.

It is the difference between median and mode that I'm trying to illustrate here; It's much more likely you'll be below the median than above it given current personal wealth distribution in the United States.

Comment Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (Score 1) 1737

It's related to the earlier story where an IT guy was fired by the AG office because he called them on not revealing exculpatory evidence during the discovery process. They also photoshopped Zimmerman's image into black and white to make his nose look less severe than it was.

I think the OP was pointing out that Slashdot, while catering to people in Information Technology, still caters to, achem, people. We may have a certain slanted view on the world as a community, but widely publicized events will still be discussed, however tangential they are to our interests. Politics is something everyone has to deal with... and so... unsurprisingly, they talk about it wherever people gather.

It's normal. And yes, I'm aware of the irony of calling a bunch of nerds "normal"... :)

Comment Re:I'm amazed... (Score -1) 1737

I doubt that. There were a lot of people who were "on his side", "rooting for him", or whatever you want to call it. Probably doesn't hurt either that George Zimmerman is not an unusual name.

Plenty of people were on the side of OJ Simpson as well. L.A. burned after the ruling came out. But he never found a career after that trial... he eventually wound up bankrupt, eeking out a living on the fame of his last memorable act -- being found not guilty.

Comment Re:Presumption of Innocence (Score 2) 1737

Except Mr. Wannabe Cop with his CCW chased down an innocent kid for no reason and the encounter led to the kid's death. Morally, he's a murderer.

Morally, we're all guilty. There isn't one among us that hasn't wanted to punch someone in the face who "deserved it". Not one of us who hasn't felt a need for vengance at one point in our lives. We love watching people we dislike get shit on -- turn on the TV for more than 30 minutes... it doesn't take long. Populist "morality," fortunately, has no place in our justice system. If we met out justice based on the whims of a mob, there wouldn't be a civilization to speak of in this country -- it's just be roving bands of tribes engaged in constant warfare. The rule of law took us away from your primitive "morality".

Our justice system is based on proof and evidence of harm to society or others. It is, hopefully, an objective and impartial judgement of ourselves and each other. Many people yell about the "immorality" of gays, but they're not harming society, not in any concrete way. This is the essence of justice -- it is about fairness, equity, and the promotion of the greater good, which is far more important than your morality, or that of any one person or group. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

And I am thankful each and every day, that people who try to inflict their own moral values onto others are kept well away from our justice system. I only wish they were kept out of our legislative system as well... and I still have debates with myself as to whether or not people like you ought to be crammed into crates and shipped far, far away never to return because of the harm you cause to society... but to date, I haven't been able to justify it because advocating the position of freedom, fairness, and justice means that no matter how hurtful your words, I can only judge you on your actions and to say otherwise would undermine any credibility I might have to claiming to stand for those things. So for now, I'm left defending your freedom of speech, though I detest and revile your kind.

Comment Re:I'm amazed... (Score 5, Insightful) 1737

I'm amazed the Media didn't manage to convict him, despite how hard they tried.

Everyone likes to talk about how they'd vote, or what they'd do. The media simply caters to that with show trials and "investigations", showing us distorted and idealized versions of this. It's the same reason why in the middle of a crisis, or when in the presence of a celebrity you'll find plenty of people whipping out their phones, and nobody actually doing anything useful. We feel important when we're around important people... or important events. We try to assure ourselves of our own relevance in whatever situation is placed in front of us. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 didn't directly affect more than a tiny, tiny fraction of the population, but everybody got emotionally involved in it, because it was spectacular, epic, and we wanted to insert ourselves into the story, the conversation, the dialogue. Show trials like this are based on this same emotional need, and the media is only too happy to indulge in it -- it sells more papers, more advertisement, etc.

But the overwhelming majority of it is total shit, and frankly harmful to our way of life. Whether Zimmerman is guilty or not, he'll never have another job. He'll always be "that guy that got away with murder", irrespective of the actual, judiciary merit of that position. There have been many people, for example, accused of rape, and were later proved not just not guilty, but totally and irrefutably innocent of the charges. Their lives were still over all the same.

The founding fathers knew this -- that's why they advocated jury trials in the first place. It was an attempt to remove this mob mentality from the judicial process, and as a balance against populism swaying the government and giving in to the transient emotional outbursts of the crowd, the mob, the public. I don't think, if they were alive today in the age of the internet and instant communication, they would still advocate that these trials be open to the public... I believe they would have wanted a person who, if found not guilty, could go back to the life they had and the community would treat them no differently. Conversely, the country was still a "big" place, in terms of social circles -- someone convicted and having served their time, could move somewhere else, start a new life, and leave their mistake(s) behind them. Neither option is possible nowadays...

Today, our justice system may still beat back the mob mentality and the public's need for vengance, and the corruption of the media, but once a person leaves the system -- guilty or innocent, their lives are irrevocably changed. And rarely is it for the better.

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