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Comment Re:What now? (Score 1) 1073

It's hard to imagine that section being considered constitutional. I suspect that there is already some case working its way through the federal system where somebody with an out-of-state same-sex marriage is suing for recognition. I know that Texas has already refused to grant a divorce in those circumstances; I don't know if it's been filed in a federal court.

It's unfortunate that such a blisteringly obvious conclusion will require the Supreme Court to inform backward states who don't want to believe it, and that this will take years and still result in a 5-4 decision.

Comment Re:Tax dodge (Score 2) 356

That's interesting. Most of this kerfluffle is about 501(c)4, used for civic organizations. They were singling out groups whose names implied that they were political, rather than civic, and should file under section 527 instead.

The tax implications are the same: you can't deduct donations to either one. Both are tax exempt, which means that their profits aren't taxed, but they can't be paid out to investors. They have to be used for the organization's stated purpose.

The key difference between the two is that 501(c)4s are allowed to keep their donor lists secret, while 527s as political organizations have to make their donor lists public. Whether that's right or not is immaterial; it is the law. Some of the groups aiming for 501(c)4 status were being "rugged individualists"; others were trying to cover up astroturfing. (A lot of them, I suspect, just had no idea what they were doing.)

This appears to be a completely unrelated issue, involving potential tax dodging rather than trying to avoid public scrutiny. But the IRS is very much in the news for doing its job of making these difficult (and some would say arbitrary) distinctions.

Comment Re:Of course there's a blacklash (Score 1) 229

The "everybody" I'm talking about here is kind of a fudge. I'm really talking about the people who talk. The vast majority don't think about this too much, and don't talk about it too much.

But they end up being complicit in the problem. They are influenced by those who do talk, and when they vote, they are swayed by the loudest talkers. That's why the talking has become screaming, in both ears, at the highest volume anybody can manage.

The Presidency is the one office where all of America comes together to vote. Every other job is done on a state-by-state or district-by-district vote, where one side or the other gets an easier foothold, and they're sent to scream at the top of their lungs. We end up with a moderate in the top job, but a legislature that's incapable of a single collective rational thought.

Comment The run masterlessly (Score 5, Interesting) 81

It requires some agent to be installed on a target server which communicates back to the Puppet Master.

You can run puppet in masterless mode, against a local copy of the manifests, either managed locally or checked out from a version control repository.

Likewise with salt (my preferred choice over puppet, but both work), you can run either with a master host, or masterlessly. With salt the nice thing is, you can use the same config for both, just invoke the command differently (salt-call --local vs salt).

Infosec is no reason not to automate, just don't automate with a master server if your policies don't permit it.

Comment Of course there's a blacklash (Score 1) 229

Here is what I've learned about politics in America:

1. The right hates the left.
2. The left hates the right.
3. Everybody hates the center.

Compromise is evil. If you didn't get everything that you want, then you've lost. When people say that they're hoping for a "moderate", they mean somebody who agrees with them on everything meaningful and gives up only trivial things that you don't care about at all.

This sarcasm isn't really about trying to defend the plan, or pick out the parts I think are good from the parts I think are bad. It's just that I can't think of any plan, on any topic, that won't be declared "dead on arrival" by both sides. I can't be bothered to see whether this plan is good, bad, or indifferent because it doesn't matter: everybody objects to it even before it's written down. It will be scrutinized only for the things to object to, and they will be found. Politics, as the "art of the possible", no longer exists because there is no longer any "possible", and nobody wants there to be any.

Comment Re:A great win for FreeBSD (Score 1) 457

Its good to see a BSD release picking up another major instance of commercial use. One of the obstacles the BSDs have faced is mindshare. Linux has had such an overpowering presence in the free/open world that it often overshadows the BSDs. That plays out in the commercial software that is available. If you look at high end vendor software, such as Oracle or other databases, or CAD tools, it is pretty rare to see much released for anything except Red Hat, or maybe Suse Linux. But getting the BSDs out where users are aware of it will definitely help.

I've been a Linux aficianado since 0.1, but find *bsd appealing for a number of reasons.

1. Portage version available (relatively seamless transition for playing around from Gentoo)
2. Avoids the whoile systemd debacle
3. avoids the udev debacle
4. Did I mention it avoids systemd? So does Gentoo, but if enough lemmings follow Red Hat over the cliff, then *bsd it will be...

Comment Re:Yes, it does (Score 2) 166

Possibly, but two things come to mind.

1. A .au address doesn't mean you're not in the US. CCTLDs are used for all sorts of reasons; bit.ly isn't libyan and gool.gl isn't in Greenland. Or maybe you're hanging on to an old email address for personal reasons. Filtering that out could have cost them donations, especially in light of:

2. Spam is cheap. It costs them essentially nothing to send you that email. If you wanted out, you'd have opted out.

If you had offered them money they'd actually have had to turn you down, since they'd ask for your address and non-American donors may not donate directly to political campaigns. (You are, however, welcome to spend as much as you like on "issue ads" filtered through a 527.) You could certainly call them lazy if they're still soliciting you after they know explicitly where you live, but I bet they don't bother (since implicit opt-outs are also potentially problematic).

Comment Re:not to sound picky (Score 1) 96

I realize you're cherry picking the NASA buy, but I'm pretty sure Google is acting on self interests alone. Even if you choose to believe that NASA picked up the phone one day, and a bunch of politicians on the other line said, "Hey NASA, buy this thing from Canada, cause that would be awesome!" I bet that kind of simplistic worldview makes their scientists and mathematicians feel awesome.

Comment Re:Ruin the US wheat crop, get a prize! (Score 1) 271

Well... not "disagree", exactly, but I'd consider it up for some debate. Borlaug did indeed save hundreds of millions of lives from starvation, but it created other problems of overcrowding (lack of access to water, increased violence from too many people crammed in together, disease, etc.) In some places it simply shifted the problems of starvation to larger populations. The number of hungry people in the world is expected to hit a record billion people:

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29231
http://www.wfp.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/600x400/photos/600_bis_Total_Hungry_People_2001-2009.jpg

I really don't intend this to diminish the sheer number of lives that Borlaug has saved, and some places have done much better in than others in taking advantage of the opportunity. For the past few decades the problem isn't really about quantity of food, per se, but rather the difficulty of getting it where it's needed despite local instability (including, just today, a murderous attack on UN aid personnel in Somalia).

But I do think that Borlaug's achievement doesn't reach its full capability without population control and decent government, and if we had those things Borlaug's extraordinary accomplishment might be unnecessary.

Comment Re:What an absolute c--t.. (Score 4, Insightful) 47

I've had the misfortune to have to deal with this Ian guy and he's an UTTER UTTER c--t.

BT is a disgraceful company and the amount of people in the company I work for who have needed to use BT and been royally screwed over by them is shocking.

At least he's leaving BT and going in to government where this behavior is expected I guess.

As a dual British citizen, I can only say this:

his appointment to the House of Lords is a strong argument in favour of getting rid of the undemocratic House of Lords, or at least making it an elected body.

Comment Re:Disaster to the Station (Score 1) 115

It can be a great improvement. Letting people know that you're OK, or that you need help, can be a major improvement. You still need cell towers to achieve that, but as with the charging stations, they can be independent of each other. Bringing in a new, temporary one will take less time and skill than fixing a downed power line.

Strengthening the infrastructure is expensive and hard. Putting up a lot of independent devices is cheap and easy. It's not the complete solution, but it's a feasible step that can make some things better without having to boil the ocean.

Comment Why a server rather than a router? (Score 2) 151

The only thing that the building has in common is geography. If you're going to take those responsibilities outside of your own device, why not just stick them in a remote data center and be done with it? Why should the building manager want to do anything other than route the bits between you and that center?

If the distance is too great and creates latencies, the solution isn't some server for the building, but some local CDN installation. Perhaps it would be in the building itself, or just in the neighborhood. It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing to have my Google Drive or Netflix Instant cache or some AWS instance. But let the professionals manage that, which is a whole massive headache of its own.

The only hardware a building manager should need is the part that is geographic, the hard wire that leads to the rest of the Internet.

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