It's not just about inspiring kids to grow up and become scientists. It's also about how much the next generation will care about investment in a new fancy science fiction future. There are plenty of reason to want to cut government spending. And if you care nothing about space exploration and travel, you could easily see the budget of a government organization like NASA or the National Science Foundation as completely superfluous.
Pure science needs pure funding. If your lab is forced to spend more time worried about how to monetize an idea than to explore it's scientific ramifications, you end up in compromising positions of wanting to cut corners and fudge the numbers.
In my ward, there were a total of 9 positions up for vote. Only three positions had names on the ballot there weren't a Republican or Democrat. Two positions were incumbents running unopposed. So when I went to vote today, I only voted on 5 of the positions. Three independents who made it on the ballot, one was an independent running as a write in, and one was a Democrat that I don't dislike.
I do agree that there are a lot of lousy names on the ballot. In the handful of hours I spent looking up the candidates who would be on the ballot in my district and listening to their public radio interviews, there was only one that I genuinely liked. So mostly I'm just voting on candidates I don't hate. On the plus side, when I first started voting, there was some 300 votes cast for independent candidates. Two years ago, my distract had just under 10% of the votes going to independents.
If you want fair multi-play online, you can't let the participants host their own games. Because then, as you say, the host always knows what everyone is doing. What you need is an intermediate network to host the games, a neutral third party service to keep things fair. Something that never sends any information to the client it doesn't need. Of course, this then requires that the host be trusted by the players to do all the heavy lifting on it's side to validate all the inputs being received. Which, again, as you say, would likely suggest a monthly subscription fee to host such a network.
If you don't do this, and instead trust the network to play wack-a-mole and verify that everyone is running a validated copy of the client binary without any untrusted third party software running, you're going to have cheaters.
A lot of the idealists are going to give you shit for holding this position. They have their reasons, and some of them might even be good ones, but let's skip that for now. If you're a realist or a pragmatist, their idealism probably isn't going to do much for you. And I get where you're coming from. Here in the US, we have a large number of disenfranchised voters who feel exactly the same way as you. And the Powers That Be really like it that way, since less voters means less work buying elections.
On the plus side, votes do seem to count. If you look at the ridiculous amounts of money being spent in US politics on campaigns, that should be prime evidence of the power of the vote. The problem, of course, is in who holds that power. Voters cast their votes for a great many reasons, and some of those reasons have been fairly easy to subvert.
The cure for this problem is not simple, and it is not easy, and I don't blame you for not wanting to help. A great many good people will likely need to stand up and serve jail time and worse in acts of civil disobedience to try and change things. Getting people to stand up and take notice to what is going on around them, and not just passively tune out discussions of politics and social justice will be a major challenge by itself. Getting people to believe in change, and to believe in a better way of social governance, and actively participate in politics... that does seem pretty impossible. And if that dream were to ever come true, and we did 'fix' things, it would carry with it a good of different problems.
But I have some good news. It only feels like there is nothing you can do about it. The bad news is that there are powerful forces at work trying to make sure you always feel that way. Of course, it has pretty much always been up to you how you want to feel about that, and what you want to do about that. Rather than passively accepting that things suck and committing yourself to the belief that it will never change, even something simple like trying to engage people in discussions on political issues can help. The more minds like yours that we can even open to the possibility of change can only help.
Of course, change is not without risk, and getting your hopes up is a good way to see them dashed to pieces at your feet. But, you already know how it is. This is the real world.
To answer your first question, you're partially correct that a debugger can do wonders to highlight malicious code. Of course, as you point out, knowing when and where to use a debugger can be a little challenging. And then the realization that unless exceptional care is taken, the code you're stepping though might not even contain or reveal the exploit. (Since the mere act of viewing the byte code in a debugger can change affect it's operation.) There's one story that really opened my eyes to the possibilities. I don't remember where the long beards keep the real link, but this seems to be the story I remember:
This was the first story of real high level obfuscation I learned about in college. As a result of Ken Thompson's little speech here, he caused the DOD to change the way they do code reviews to catch back doors like this. And the obfuscated C challenges have been going on since at least the early 80s. Some of the winners are real treasure troves of high level trickery.
What is it you do where you can't receive packages at your place of work?
My previous employer was small enough that sending packages there worked wonderfully. Dedicated shipping and receiving clerk on duty at most hours to accept packages, and quick and easy routing to forward packages on to my desk.
My current employer is significantly larger, and the dedicated shipping and receiving clerks aren't situated to route personal packages. Names and departments not on their normal receiving list get shunted off to the interoffice communication department, who do tend to route packages to us... eventually... assuming we fill out a twenty-seven B stroke six. Of course, a little work to get in the good graces of shipping and receiving will put you on their informal list, assuming you can get packages sent to you labeled correctly. But that's not really covered in the employee handbook.
Wow, talk about misrepresenting the facts. I hate the way the MPAA is using copyright law as much as the next digital rights activist. But, for the record, the MPAA didn't take down the network. They just sent their usual infringement notice to the ISP, who then forwarded it on to Coshocton County. The county then made the decision to shut down the wifi service, they weren't ordered to by any judge or MPAA executive/lawyer/asshat.
After getting out of college I got a 'real' job in an Windows-only shop. I was still a Windows guy at the time, so I was still quasi-happy. However, I became less happy as my efforts to deploy Linux in my workplace were consistently rebuffed while my Linux skills at home continued to grow.
So I went job hunting for a work place that would let me use Linux. As you might expect, most places I interviewed either expressed ignorance, or had any of a number of reasons why they didn't use or even allow Linux in their shop. So I had to change my search tactics. I started cold calling likely medium and large sized businesses and socially engineering my way to talk to a system administrator. A handful of them seemed to think I was either doing a pen test, or were otherwise properly paranoid at releasing information about what their developers used in house. The rest were happy to reveal if they allowed and/or encouraged Linux in their shop. Of the 11 places that would share details, 6 admitted to using some flavor of Linux.
Some persistence and a bit of luck later, and I've now been happily employed as a Linux developer for five+ years now. Most of the rest of the company is still Windows only, but we have our little penguin oasis and an IT management staff that is happy to allow us the freedom to try OSS where we think it might work. And I've never been happier.
Right, these are RIAA numbers. Since when did we care what spin doctoring they did to their own numbers to try and justify their war on piracy? The only slant this article gives the numbers is that there are more and growing opportunities to listen to music for free... a fact the RIAA mentioned no where. But, guess what? Since around the 1950s or so, we've all been able to listen to music for free over the radio. And the Boston Strangler aside, the advent of the portable music player has only made music more accessible.
The fact that we're in a fairly serious global recession coupled to the inflation they sprinkle on the numbers might make them look tragic. But last I checked, everyone still wants music. They just don't have as much to spend on it right now. I don't see the music industry going anywhere.
Well, the major labels might vanish. But they stopped being a required piece of the music industry more than 10 years ago. Course, they won't really vanish unless their copyrights actually expire. Or our generation dies out and is replaced by a culture that believes music should be enjoyed rather than owned.
Have you reconsidered a computer career?