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Comment Re:RSA's name is now mud (Score 1) 291

I think the crowd that want to completely rid the UK of libel laws are very mistaken... yes, they make investigative journalism much more tedious and expensive, but they also protect journalists from being gradually replaced by glorified PR people which has largely happened in many other places around the world.

Please explain. I'd like an explanation of how the fear of being sued for saying anything overly critical has improved the UK's resilience to just putting out what people want said about them instead of things they don't want said about them.

Comment Re:Time to sell List of CEOs home addresses (Score 1) 168

those who shift the argument to 'world-wide' are intellectually dishonest.

Actually, yes they are in this context. The original exchange that started this whole thread was someone saying that we should sell info on "the 1%," obviously meaning the phrase as coined by the Occupy movement in the context of the wealthiest members of American society who the original poster conflated with those in control of selling this information.

Then someone responded that everyone on Slashdot was part of "the 1%" by changing the definition of what "the 1%" meant to something different that suited his argument. Of course, in the process he committed a few math errors, which is what I was addressing in the bulk of my post, but that attempt to argue by definition was intellectually dishonest, and I stand by my statement to that effect.

Comment Re:Time to sell List of CEOs home addresses (Score 4, Insightful) 168

Uhhhh... there are many more places in the world than that. The OP is right - if you're here, you're most likely part of the global 1%.

The total population of the US, Canada, and the EU, as of 2008 is 550 million people out of a total global population of about 6.7 billion. 8% > 1%.

Of course, this is an irrelevant distraction, because the phrase "the 1%" was coined to cover the top 1% of Americans, not the world.

Comment Re:Interesting future (Score 2) 182

Absolutely, this has the potential to completely redesign the way we look at manufactured products. That goes well beyond China; it would radically disrupt the economy at home, too. A lot of products that are currently shipped could be printed.

I think the case of books is instructive, though. For a long time we've had the technology to print books at home. DRM was of course an issue, and publishers weren't jumping at the chance to make the book available to print, but even setting that aside I think people who want printed books would generally rather have them mailed rather than downloaded and printed on their own printer. There are little things, like binding, page size, and the price of printer ink. In the end, the Kindle disrupted that market before it got going.

I suspect we'll find that for a lot of common products, we'll want to keep doing it the old-fashioned way until somebody completely disrupts the market. I don't know what that will look like. I do know that I'm about to go buy a new coat, and can't imagine the day coming any time soon when I'd download it and print it.

Comment Re:This is despicable and indecent (Score 4, Insightful) 215


Well, it depends. Is that food actually safe to eat? In this case, probably, but that hasn't been vetted and proven by the Chinese government, so they're quite sane in erring on the side of safety. Especially considering all the product recalls involving tainted food from their local producers. Plus, it's not like the US or China are strapped for food at the national level.

The problem with starvation has been one of distribution for much of the past century. If this food IS being thrown away (and that's a big "if"), then it's because there's no good way of getting it to someone who could pay some price for it before it spoils. (And food aid is generally not done for completely free.)

Comment Re:Good luck keeping the genie in the bottle (Score 5, Informative) 215

In this case, it isn't really so much about "keeping the genie in the bottle," since they're quite alright with the genie in general. This is just about double-checking safety of a product and one country's industries not doing enough to respect another country's approval process by keeping the supply-chain neatly segregated.

Of course, the irony is that this sort of story usually happens the other way with China. e.g. Honey containing traces of pesticides of antibiotics approved for general use in China but not approved in the US.

Comment Re:Very different code (Score 1) 225

How would spending the time to look through the source code themselves have been more of a waste than spending a year fighting with a recalcitrant vendor?

The best solution is to have access to the source code AND a dev team that is actively developing it that you can submit bugs to. If they are willing to spend the time to fix it, then that's great. If they aren't, then at least you have recourse. Also, you have greater ability to prove it IS their fault and that they do need to fix it themselves.

It's not like having access to the code is mutually exclusive with having support.

Comment Re:Time for some really new physics (Score 2) 150

Not really. Right now it looks as if the "collapse of the universe" is a "never" thing that never gets any closer. The value of the cosmological constant seems to be greater than 1.

This paper isn't about that, but about an even more obscure idea involving the false vacuum that gives rise to the Higgs field. It's a wildly speculative theory to succeed the Standard Model. That theory has a different kind of collapse involving a radical change to the Higgs field, greatly increasing the mass. This paper doesn't bring it any closer in time; rather, it's one (tiny) step closer in understanding the theory.

Comment Re:Interesting future (Score 1) 182

As far as I can tell, we're a long way from that, mostly because "printer supplies" would require such a wide array of materials.

3D printer can make shapes, but as far as I can see they're not very good with materials. They take what they get. A gun as the advantage of being a block of metal; all it needs to be is strong. But even something as simple as a kitchen spatula or frying pan would prove quite complicated. The spatula head needs to be flexible, while the handle needs to be stiff. A decent frying pan is actually quite a complex bit of manufacturing, using multiple layers of metal to conduct heat while remaining stiff and scratch-resistant. A great many things require specific types of plastic or metal, which is easy enough to do when the Chinese will make ten million of them, but harder to imagine for a one-off.

I don't doubt that these are problems that will be solved some day. At least some of them will be solved by completely reinventing the task and the tool, rather than trying to adapt new technology to the old job. But I'm really not expecting to give up my Amazon Prime account any time soon.

Comment Re:Inbreeding? In a Small Tribe? I'm SHOCKED! (Score 1) 109

When those people came to Hawaii and wed other Japanese (and Chinese) people from other villages, their children were inches taller - living in the same culture, often on similar diets. Their children were taller still, and THEIR children are the size of everybody else.

Similar, but almost certainly not the same diet their parents had growing up. Heights is up across the Western world across population due to increases in available calories. The Dustbowl and the Great Depression were the last times in America that large swathes of the population suffered famine. Despite all the unhealthy effects of too many calories in the American diet, we generally have far more access to protein and to vitamins & minerals than our ancestors from about a century ago and than people in most of China even today.

Ironically though, too much nutrition (i.e. obesity) in childhood can retard the adolescent growth spurt. This is part of why America is no longer the tallest nation.

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Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson