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Comment Re: Ohhh, Slashdot beta makes sense now (Score 1) 299

You don't need to punish every infraction - in fact doing so is counterproductive. Humans (and most other animals) respond far more strongly to semi-random reinforcement (negative or positive) than to consistent responses.

It's not possible to punish every infraction. A point I made in the previous comment. But let's be clear on what you mean by 'semi-random reinforcement)'. Because to punish without regard to infraction confirmation does not lead to compliance. It leads to psychosis. But to punish confirmed infractions publicly - to make an example - that's a different matter. Which leads us back to surveillance, the Panopticon, and Foucault's essay on the subject.

Comment Re:From someone who's tested it (Score 1) 140

There is another fascinating benefit- if someone tries to sit in the middle of the photon stream and determine photon polarization, their eavesdropping will be evident- by checking the polarization of a photon in transit, they change the value of the polarization.

I think there's a problem with this. What you describe is similar to a BB84 quantum key distribution scheme. But I think you're missing a quantum no-cloning mechanism here.


In BB84 photon polarization is used to encode qubit data, much like what you propose. Here's Wiki:

According to quantum mechanics (particularly quantum indeterminacy), no possible measurement distinguishes between the 4 different polarization states, as they are not all orthogonal. The only possible measurement is between any two orthogonal states (an orthonormal basis). So, for example, measuring in the rectilinear basis gives a result of horizontal or vertical. If the photon was created as horizontal or vertical (as a rectilinear eigenstate) then this measures the correct state, but if it was created as 45 or 135 (diagonal eigenstates) then the rectilinear measurement instead returns either horizontal or vertical at random. Furthermore, after this measurement the photon is polarized in the state it was measured in (horizontal or vertical), with all information about its initial polarization lost.

But I think in your scheme the detector wouldn't know how many photons had been emitted or what polarization any arbitrary photon should be, therefore it couldn't determine if a photon had been emitted by your source of a man-in-the-middle device. And by transmitting that information from emitter to detector classically, you'd negate any security gained.

You'd need to establish a stream of entangled photon pairs:

By using quantum superpositions or quantum entanglement and transmitting information in quantum states, a communication system can be implemented which detects eavesdropping. If the level of eavesdropping is below a certain threshold, a key can be produced that is guaranteed to be secure (i.e. the eavesdropper has no information about it), otherwise no secure key is possible and communication is aborted.

Now: big caveat, this is not my field and I am no expert in qcomputing or qcryptography. Corrections are most welcome.

Comment Re: Ohhh, Slashdot beta makes sense now (Score 1) 299

The prisoners are afraid of what the guards will do when caught, not the surveillance itself.

I think Foucault would have argued that your point conflates surveillance with punishment. But punishment is only a meaningful deterrent when accurately administered. Therefore, surveillance crucial to determining what violations of policy have occurred. Furthermore, you ignores a crucial aspect about punishment - it doesn't scale. That is, one cannot punish every violation for there are not enough guards nor enough whips to strike at every instance. The panopticon resolves this by inculcating self-discipline through constant fear by constant surveillance. Therefore, surveillance crucial to determining what violations of policy have occurred.

Never mind the underlying question of who determines policy.

What freedoms you have and are allowed to exercise is the central thing here, not surveillance.
If you want to talk about freedoms then do that instead of surveillance.

What a fascinating response. One built upon the notions of "allowed freedoms" combined with the directive to focus on these allowed freedoms rather than the mechanisms inherent in imposing order. It seems self-contradictory at its face.

Comment Re:Ohhh, Slashdot beta makes sense now (Score 3, Interesting) 299

Even knowing this is happening will change how many people behave. Warnings like this are part of the problem, real security experts will be working to block the watching, not adding to the chilling effects.

I'd like to quote from Michel Foucault's essay "Panopticon" from his book _Discipline and Punish_. Here's a link to the a pdf of the text:

But first an explanation of the term is in order. In the late 18th century Bentham designed a prison where all the cells pointed to a central guard station. Thus, inmates were always being watched. The guard house design incorporated venetian blinds and obtuse corners so that inmates would know that at any time they could be under the watchful eye of guards, but never know exactly _when_. The intent of this was to impose self-restraint upon the inmate community by fear of potential surveillance. That is, self-censorship imposed by an architectural design. Here's what wikipedia has to say on the matter:

Foucault took this idea and extended it to surveillance by authorities as a kind of 'social panopticon'.

[...] The Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen.

It is an important mechanism, for it automatizes and disindividualizes power. Power has its principle not so much in a person as in a certain concerted distribution of bodies, surfaces, lights, gazes; in an arrangement whose internal mechanisms produce the relation in which individuals are caught up. The ceremonies, the rituals, the marks by which the sovereign's surplus power was manifested are useless. There is a machinery that assures dissymmetry, disequilibrium, difference. Consequently, it does not matter who exercises power. Any individual, taken almost at random, can operate the machine: in the absence of the director, his family, his friends, his visitors, even his servants (Bentham, 45). Similarly, it does not matter what motive animates him: the curiosity of the indiscreet, the malice of a child, the thirst for knowledge of a philosopher who wishes to visit this museum of human nature, or the perversity of those who take pleasure in spying and punishing. The more numerous those anonymous and temporary observers are, the greater the risk for the inmate of being surprised and the greater his anxious awareness of being observed.


[Panopticism] is regarded as not much more than a bizarre little utopia, a perverse dream - rather as though Bentham had been the Fourier of a police society, and the Phalanstery had taken on the form of the Panopticon. And yet this represented the abstract formula of a very real technology, that of individuals. There were many reasons why it received little praise; the most obvious is that the discourses to which it gave rise rarely acquired, except in the academic classifications, the status of sciences; but the real reason is no doubt that the power that it operates and which it augments is a direct, physical power that men exercise upon one another. An inglorious culmination had an origin that could be only grudgingly acknowledged. But it would be unjust to compare the disciplinary techniques with such inventions as the steam engine or Amici's microscope. They are much less; and yet, in a way, they are much more. If a historical equivalent or at least a point of comparison had to be found for them, it would be rather in the inquisitorial' technique.

Foucault extended the idea of the social panopticon throughout all institutions of society, drawing parallels between hierarchical structures in church, state, and corporate spheres where a authority used the possibility of surveillance and the treat of punishment to impose social dominion. Taken from this perspective, one can view the NSA's achievement of Poindexter's old Total Information Awareness project as a Panopticon built into the fabric of the Internet and its computing nodes. The purpose is not just to collect data, but to engender enough fear that an imposition of self-censorship becomes the norm. Thus, it is in the interest of intelligence agencies that the existence of pervasive surveillance is widely known. For the purpose is not simply to surveil the population, but to impose social controls on the Internet implemented by the users' themselves.

Comment Re:Seriously - GTFO (Score 1) 401

You're right about my error with the definition and I'm no physician so I'll defer. But it was certainly a death sentence in my family. Still, if survival is possible I wouldn't wish death on anyone who suffers from it to prove my point.

It was bad. He became dependent on prednisone and inhalers to breath. And, well, if you've ever seen bloating and weight gain from prednisone you'd know what he went through. And the prednisone caused secondary infections from impaired immune function. He was dependent on an oxygen concentrator, which required bottled oxygen to be available in the event of a power failure. And a trip to the ER if the bottle emptied.

He described COPD as like downing in slow motion.

Any doc whose seen this before would know the story.

Anyway, of course, none of this I'd wish on Nimoy or anyone else.

Comment Re:abusing the 401k (Score 5, Interesting) 123

If you work for 50 years and receive the typical long-term return of 7 percent on your 401(k) plan and your fees are 2 percent, almost two-thirds of your account will go to Wall Street. This was the bombshell dropped by Frontline’s Martin Smith in this Tuesday evening’s PBS program, The Retirement Gamble.

This is not so much a gamble as a certainty: under a 2 percent 401(k) fee structure, almost two-thirds of your working life will go toward paying obscene compensation to Wall Street; a little over one-third will benefit your family – and that’s before paying taxes on withdrawals to Uncle Sam.

Documentary here:

Comment Re:abusing the 401k (Score 2) 123

Here's someone else who made many similar points to what I posted:

First, any employee who leaves IBM’s employment prior to December 15 for any reason other than a formal retirement will not receive any company match to his or her own 401(k) contributions for the entire year. Nada. IBM executives could fire someone on December 14 and the company would not have to pay out.

Second, all employees lose an entire year of the IBM match working for them in the investment sense. ...

As for 'harassment' I think you made the point for me:

In terms of dissuading potential employees, it's pretty clear at this point IBM has stopped caring about hiring *new* talent. In fact, their overall strategy could just as likely be about making people *want* to quit because that's cheaper than laying them off.

What conduct in the workplace constitutes 'making people want to quit'?

Comment abusing the 401k (Score 5, Interesting) 123

There are some who argue that the 401k is a bad investment option.

But note that by only disbursing matching funds on December 15th, IBM twists the arms of its employees to plan separation from the company at the most difficult time of transition. Right during the holidays and then a dead point for hiring in mid winter. They also incentivize employee harassment and unfair terminations prior to Dec 15th in order to cut costs by keeping what would have been 401k disbursements. And of course the funds are kept in an interest bearing or investment account controlled by the firm for a year, meaning those gains are lost to the employee.

I'd call that a terrible policy and one that any potential employee should carefully consider. Not only does it represent lost potential 401K gains, but much worse, it's an indication of how poorly management at the firm views its employees. Real 'company store' type stuff.

Comment Re:Seriously - GTFO (Score 2) 401

TFA says he has COPD - Cardio Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder. This is essentially emphysema and congestive heart failure. The disease is terminal. My father died from this disorder, so I've seen it personally. Not a nice way to go (not that any of them are).

Still, Nimoy said that he'd quit smoking thirty years ago. While it's possible the smoking is a contributory factor, COPD is also commonly diagnosed in those who've never smoked. And Nimoy is an old man.

Of course I wish him well and hope he is cared for by the best doctors available.

Comment Re:Give Me Mod Points Slashdot, I fight for the Us (Score 1) 367

I have fond memories of Slashdot.

The new software is a little borked and needs some fixing. But this community outrage is a bit overblown. I mean, you'd think it's Paris and the French had just lost the World Cup or something. The Bastille opened and tourists imprisoned, cars burning everywhere, lithe blond queens frogmarched up to the guillotine, French men drinking Portuguese wine.

It's bad here. Real 'Reign of Terror' like.

Comment Re:Give Me Mod Points Slashdot, I fight for the Us (Score 1) 367

We aren't going to be here between the 10th and the 17th.

That's the Week of Slashcott.

We *are* the users, and we're fighting for ourselves (and, believe it or not, you, as well)

Hey, it's awesome and all that the two of yous has worked out who's doing the fight'n for who. And I respect the collegiality of this Slashcott effort. You know, posting informative manifestos in places likely to be seen, again and again and again. And that productive organizing of community labor, yous know - boycott and strike proposals that seem perfectly suited to fixing a borked software release and everything. It's like Tron went Bolshevik at the Main Bus so afterward we'd all be free to turn the Great System off and bask in collective darkness. Real inspiring.


But, uh, anyway. Could you do me a favor and not do that fighting for me? I'd rather you did it for someone else. I was thinking I'd skip the boycott for now. Because as much as I agree that the new beta needs some fix'n, I'm not ready to raise a pitchfork, raze the sandcastle, and laze'r up Alderaan down into bits over a few bugs and a bit of bad design. The tech world won't end if Dice rolls out a fucked up slashcode release.

Evil Somali warlards won't cry in their morning applejax.

Don Corleone won't make a bitcoin deal you can't refuse and build a toll booth across the Silk Road.

Dice employees won't twirl their greased up mustaches and laugh maniacally as slashdolts frankly press "preview" over and over again all for nothing.

Or maybe they will. Mwahahahahaaaaa!!!

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