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Comment Re:They're just hypocrites (Score 4, Insightful) 332

It's a mistake to presume that Al Qaeda is staffed by religious fanatics. They are generally opposed to their own governments as much as ours, and attacked the U.S. because the U.S. was supporting tyrannical and corrupt governments in their region. Hopefully the Arab Spring has changed this somewhat.

Like most religious wars, religion in this case is just used as justification. The conflict has other causes.

Comment Re:Heil (Score 1) 462

Absolutely agree on all counts. I might also note that out of curiosity I once looked at a few passages of Mein Kampf in English translation. The scariest thing about it was that the passages I read could have been written by just about any politician working today.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 3, Interesting) 195

A simpler solution is for navies to go underwater. In fact, all warfare is about to change: the future will involve few if any manned ships or airplanes, or indeed - manned combat.

Just as sailing ships gave way to steamships, and battleships gave way to carriers, the navies of the future will be quite different from the navies of today. I imagine that most naval vessels of the future will spend almost all of their time beneath the surface, and only occasionally surface to launch multitudes of small flying drones as needed. They will not need to surface at all to launch small swimming drones - and the ships themselves may not be manned.

Comment This article is about politics and name-calling (Score 1) 1128

This isn't about conservatives distrusting science, but about conservatives distrusting scientists.

If the interviewer had asked about views on genetically modified foods rather than global warming, they would have discovered that liberals are opposed to science and conservatives support it.

In short, this study is an excellent example why no one should trust self-styled intellectuals. Conservatives don't hate intellectuals, conservatives hate posers.

Comment Re:Of all the games mentioned, what's missing? (Score 4, Informative) 350

Yes, they mentioned that Rogue on the PC was a port from an older game on Unix systems, and also mentioned that it inspired Nethack and Angband.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that they remembered to include these games, which despite the simple graphics were by far the most advanced games of their day.

However, if you want to get really pedantic, they should have mentioned the even older ADVENTURE.

Comment Re:Teaching the curve not the median (Score 1) 160

In the U.S., inflation-adjusted spending on education has more than tripled in the last 50 years, while outcomes have remained flat.

One-room schoolhouses have a better track record of educational achievement than our modern system.

We could probably reduce spending on education and reduce the need and expense of prisons, but those who make the decisions don't want that. The education system is doing what it was intended to do: dumb down the population. And it's doing it well.

Comment people in the field don't care (Score 1) 498

It's not just police. This is the sort of thing that people in offices don't understand - this always happens in the field. It doesn't matter how much training you do, people in the field just don't give a damn about this sort of thing. If you give them extra time and resources to make sure that calibration is done correctly, they will take the opportunity to go home early, have a long lunch, or take a nap. I've seen this in the military, in the private sector, and especially with contractors to the government. This is why systems always need to be designed to be much more robust than they technically need to be.

Of course, it goes beyond this: I have had jobs where I received written instructions on how to do the job, but no equipment to do the job with. At McMurdo Station I was given the work order to inspect every electrical panel on the station with a thermal imaging camera to check for overheating. One small problem: we did not have such a camera, the next incoming flight was four months away, and no one was going to send the equipment anyway. So I ended up just going around and manually tightening all the screws on the connections, and looking for scorch marks.

Perhaps this can be an object lesson for the engineers at Slashdot who actually design things.

Comment Re:Ready? (Score 3, Insightful) 469

Exactly. In 1983 computers were slow and awkward (might take 15 minutes to boot up, and required special skillz to operate), transmission rates were slow (I knew someone in 1981 who would use his 90 baud modem to check if he had email - but then would drive to the university where he worked to read the email if he had any - it was faster), and in many areas phone service was expensive and by the minute even for local calls. Add all these together and there simply wasn't enough demand at the time - such things were toys for the rich.

Thanks to the rich people for paying the R&D for today's internet, however!

Comment Re:Oh Frack! (Score 1) 377

"The criticism from the Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations was withering: “The Plant was operated in a culture that seemed to allow instruments to operate in alarm mode rather than questioning the alarm and rectifying the relevant fault.” "

Anyone who actually works for a living will understand how common this is. For most workers, every new safety procedure is one more opportunity to take a nap on company time, or one more annoyance to be worked around or ignored. I've had jobs where other workers complained if I wore safety glasses because it made them look bad for not wearing theirs. The only reason I don't face significant social pressure to ditch my glasses is because I need them to see - even though they have successfully protected my eyes from flying debris on numerous occasions.

There is no solution for human carelessness, laziness, or obstinacy, except to remove the humans entirely - or at least human decision-making. Changing to equipment and materials that are inherently safer works, but safety guards on equipment will be hastily removed the first moment a worker has an excuse - even the appearance of a malfunction will do - and they will not be replaced. In fact, they will be discarded immediately to ensure that they cannot be replaced. A very strict safety program may reduce such things a little, but the pressure must be constant.

If systems can be fully automated, and put under the supervision of a perfectionist, that may be sufficient. Otherwise, it is a good thing that nuclear plants and most everything life critical is over-engineered.

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