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Comment Re:Moral dilemma for Cowards (Score 1) 411

I've got news for you, friend. Information has never harmed a single soul. It takes action to do that. Information doesn't kill people, people do.

Indeed many things blamed on "The Internet" actually involve people meeting in person.

The NSA does not preempt terrorist threats, and even if they did, the cost to the rest of our lives is too much. They've inundated themselves with data and can't make sense of any of it until after the actions have been performed. Besides, folks could just send post cards with stenographic messages on them, or any other low-tech solution.

Even moderatly good codes (which includes using "slang terms) would more or less ensure that interceptions would be useless in preventing anything.

More folks die of heart disease every year than over fifty 9/11's... 2,996 died in 9/11. 597,689. Two Hundred Times More, Every Year! If the NSA wanted to protect us they'd be making tastier health food.

Similarly it would make more sense for the TSA to spend all it's budget on improving road safety.
As for the issue of "healthy food" they'd probably first need to find out what is healthy for people as opposed to profitable for the food industry.

Comment Re:Moral dilemma for the IT community (Score 1) 411

To put it another way: free speech means some folks will say things that match your opinion (a "good" thing!), but sometimes, they dare to say stuff you don't agree with! And the latter can't be allowed.

Where the ethics gets tricky is "you" (be that an individual, a "majority" or vocal "minority") agreeing with an opinion or not may not be a good metric as to if something should be allowed or not in a society.
Something which is "popular" may be very "bad", whereas something which is "unpopular" may be very "good".

And the reason James Clapper here wants to forbid you to use encryption is pretty nefarious, even if he claims to want only "your good".

Very often those who seek to impose something on people "for their own good" are the most oppressive.

Comment Re:I feel safer... (Score 1) 411

You have to draw a line somewhere and wherever you draw it it'll be arbitrary. Not drawing that line at all would be even sillier.
To me it's best that you draw a single line and get the full power and responsibility at the same age (with exceptions for the severely mentally handicapped).


If you are already making an exception for "severely mentally handicapped" then age is no longer the only criteria anyway. Maybe instead what's needed is someway of testing "mental competence". Or a biological method of testing if someone is "child" or "adult".

Otherwise you have multiple arbitrary lines like in some countries the age you can be conscripted/sign up as a soldier is lower than the age you can vote for the leaders who'd send you to die and which itself is lower than the age you can drink alcoholic beverages. And that to me is even sillier than a single arbitrary line.

There's also things like being able to operate highly dangerous machines in public.

Comment Re:A Justification for Anything (Score 1) 411

If they are already unable to detect and prevent bad things from happening at the hands of terrorists, what justifies attempting to crack one of the few means of privacy we have left?

The whole thing being based on the assumption that mass snooping actually does anything against "terrorism" (or any of the other "threats" used as justifciation.)

They used to do this stuff using human assets - actual members of the CIA going out and recruiting agents, analyzing data received, finding targets and then determining what to do about them, but when they came across the absolute "sexiness" of electronic spying, they cut waaaaaaay back on human spying, turned the problem over the NSA and cut the budget (more likely spend more on the NSA than they did on CIA employees and bribes to prospective agents).

WIth the obvious problem that without humans in the loop it can be impossible to separate "signal" from "noise". Assuming you are even looking at the right communications channel in the fist place. With this being identified as a serious problem over 12 years ago!

Comment Re:Officials learn terrorist and criminals use cas (Score 1) 411

The NSA agents have no reason why they wouldn't sell any intel to the highest bidder, since there's no traceability nor accountability (remember that the agents only got caught because they confessed; somebody selling the same info would never do that). I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of US companies that'd love to get their hands on the intel the NSA collects.

Unlike Edward Snowdon spys within the NSA wouldn't go telling the entire world what they'd been up to. Also the NSA undoubtedly freely exchanges information with "partners". So a US company might find it easier to get hold of such information in London or Tel Aviv...

Comment Re:Democratization (Score 1) 194

Moderating by scientists in the field seems better than letting some gatekeeper decide which new ideas get to see the light of day, and which get deep sixed simply because they are unpopular points of view at the moment.

Even for more trivial reasons like disliking the author or where they are from.
Science isn't ment to work by "argumentum ad populum" or "argumentum ad auctoritatem" in the first place.

How much actual damage can be done by publishing rubbish? (Its a serious question, because I don't pretend to know the answer). Aren't all results subject to verification by peers anyway?

Sometimes a good way to test a theory can be obvious to an "outsider", but completly overlooked by "experts in the field". Even more potential "loss of face" if it's someone pointing out a basic flaw in the reasoning behind a popular theory.

Comment Re:Remember all those years of Linux on the Deskto (Score 2) 183

Systems "just work" and installing software is no more difficult than looking for what you need in an "app store" just like on a phone.

In what kind of enterprise system does any kind of "app store" make any sense at all. The "personal computer"
Also if you have a need for per anything licenced software you'd tend to also need a suitable licence tracking system. An obvious advantage here of OSS is that it effectivly comes with a site/enterprise licence.

Comment Re:Remember all those years of Linux on the Deskto (Score 1) 183

Because, while Linux doesn't have Active Directory, it has other benefits that Windows does not have. So, if you define your criteria to be "must support Active Directory", then, obviously, Linux doesn't pass. If, on the other hand, you define your requirement as (for example), "must support SELinux", then Linux is your only choice.

Effectivly they appear to be saying "The Windows way of doing things is the best/only way to do it". (Or possibly "The only way I know of is the Windows method.")

As for the "nice GUI tools", they may make manageability easy, but they don't make it efficient.

It's quite possible for "inefficient" to equate to "hard". e.g. if they expect you click X boxes for everything in list Y. Rather than just being able to tell the machine "Do X to everything in list Y and don't bug me til you've finished".

Comment Re:vs gasoline cars (Score 1) 388

Separate sewers are much better from an environmental point of view because they don't wastefully put surface water through the sewage treatment system and are much less likely to end up releasing raw sewage during storms but are rather hard to retrofit.

Except that a separate system means you have twice as many underground pipes to build and maintain.

Comment Re:vs gasoline cars (Score 1) 388

Gasoline doesn't burst into flames the second it touches air, you know. The vast majority of tank punctures in gasoline/diesel vehicles end with an empty tank and a stinky mess on the road.

Leaking diesel is very hard to ignite (so is aviation turbine fuel). They tried this on Mythbusters. Thery've also tried multiple times to create fuel tank explosions. Even gasoline typically only burns as a gas mixed with air. (With the resulting radiant heat tending to help boil any nearby which is in its liquid state.) One thing fuel leaks are good at is damaging asphalt road surfaces.

Comment Re:Great idea! Let's keep it going: (Score 1) 266

A new California law will require local bars to eliminate any alcohol consumed by minors from their bodies on demand. Supporters say this new law will reduce the amount of drunk-driving and poor decisions made by drunk minors. It might help them avoid personal and work-related problems.

Maybe a simpler option would be only to allow adults to drive.

Comment Re:Not as stupid as it sounds (Score 1) 266

"Googeling" somebody is not as easy as you make it sound. It already requires careful checks to make sure you have the right person and it requires interpretation by experienced experts.

It also depends on how common a name someone has. If they have a very common name it can be difficult finding the right person at all.
This has been an issue even since the invention of the telephone directory. With the added complication that the distribution of names of telephone subscribers, Facebook users, "Tweeters", etc need not be that of the general population.

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