Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:I never understood the principle. (Score 5, Interesting) 454

The problem with white phosphorus is that it doesn't kill people, it maims them. The overall gist of the rules of war is that it's OK to kill people but not to leave them suffering. It's tantamount to torture or terrorism, using fear and pain rather than force to achieve your goals. Ostensibly killing soldiers is part of a just war (making them stop doing whatever it is that justifies your war), while simply scaring people isn't, even though it leaves them alive.

It took me a long time to write that in as neutral a fashion as I could. I'm sure that a great many people would find it a silly distinction. But it really is a key underlying principle for why we have rules of war at all. I personally find the concept kind of odd.

Comment Re:My favorite part (Score 1) 271

I don't think it's unreasonable. Government spending is in a sense an arbitrary number. About half of the budget is money that comes in one door and out the other; they're wealth transfer programs rather than actual "spending". Such programs could, if we wished, be many times GDP. It's a bit like basing a bank's value based on the size of its deposits, even though every dollar on deposit is also a dollar that they owe. I'm not taking a stand on the programs one way or another, simply pointing out that the size of the budget isn't an easy number to interpret for comparison purposes.

The GDP, on the other hand, more or less corresponds to something real: how much the nation produces. There are numerous ways in which the calculation is flawed, and that number too is most effective only when compared to historical data. But in this case, it's a not-completely-insane way to say, "This is how much the nation makes, and this is what fraction we spend on protecting that earning capacity via intelligence services."

It would also be meaningful to compare to real government spending (as opposed to the government's supervision of transfer payments). But that number is roughly proportional to GDP, since it effectively takes a fraction of GDP in taxes. So it's another way of saying the same thing.

You can certainly dispute whether that amount is still too much, or whether the amount is being spent well in pursuit of that protecting-the-rest-of-our-earnings goal. But I don't think it's meaningless to compare the two numbers.

Comment Re:And just maybe... (Score 3, Insightful) 530

That doesn't prove that anything I said is patently false. It just means that 66.4% of the studies weren't designed to provide a conclusion on cause. It's not a vote one way or the other. It is outside the scope of what is trying to be measured. Most likely some of those studies are concerned with the real world impact of climate change without caring so much about the cause. If my study was on the impact of climate change on polar bears I am not going to espouse an opinion on why.

Comment Re:And just maybe... (Score 1) 530

Well that is exactly it. It's the whole "cui bono" thing. Who benefits from lying about climate change? You could argue that all scientists, who generally don't make a lot of money and rarely agree with each other on much, benefit by having a climate change career OR you could argue that the fossil fuel industry benefits by continuing to have record profits. I think I know who I believe is more likely to be lying.

Comment It doesn't sound like much of a salesman (Score 1) 168

I am having a bit of trouble trying to figure out what this is intended to achieve. T(brief and uninformative)FA mentioned its ability to answer technical questions that you should be able to glean from the web site if the answers have any meaning to you. And it doesn't do most of the things that a salesman is supposed to be able to do, about financing and the dealership's policies and such like.

It sounds less like a salesman-replacement and a lot more like ELIZA dressed up with car questions so that somebody can get a bit of free advertising on somebody's blog.

Slashdot Top Deals

Your program is sick! Shoot it and put it out of its memory.