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Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 305

Last I looked (admittedly quite a few years ago), the average welfare stay was about three years. This means that your sister would balance out eight people who were only on for a year.

It's hard to estimate the number of "welfare queens", but they can't be more than a small minority of recipients.

FWIW, my anecdote is about somebody I knew who was really trying to get a decent job to support her kid, but was hit by serious medical conditions that were not well-handled. Given successful medical treatment for her injuries, she'd probably have been decently employed with a good salary by the time I lost track of her. She was on AFDC significantly more than three years, but I can't fault her.

Comment Re:All the observed data is perfectly normal (Score 1) 130

A fair number of individual scientists could be running a scam. I find it incredible that virtually all the scientists in the field would run a scam, and that there wouldn't be numerous peer-reviewed articles pointing that out. Yet, we find that 98% of climate scientist agree on it. If this were to be fraudulent, I think it would be unprecedented in the history of science. If 98% of scientists in a field were seriously wrong about the data, I think that would be unprecedented in the history of science.

Science is about observations and coming up with neat theories to explain it. However, to move on to new topics, we need to have some way of establishing what set of observations we can rely on and which theories are accepted (so scientists can either build on it or come up with more precise ways to break the theories). That would be consensus.

Comment Re:More to the point (Score 1) 187

There exists some advertising that is deceptive and harmful. That doesn't mean all advertising is.

Assuming we adopt your definition of "advertising", substituting "commercial" for "corporate", YttriumOxide's .sig is advertising. It is intended to make /. users buy a book. Is that harmful?

Some advertisements are to get the sale, anything else be damned. Others are intended for existing customers (I get a lot of advertising from assorted companies I do business with) or intended to start a long-term customer relation, and those have to mesh to some extent with the customers' needs.

For an example, I've bought stuff from Amazon. Amazon regularly sends me emails with advertising in them. I usually glance at them and delete them, but I've glanced at them and bought stuff often enough for it to make sense for Amazon. I've gotten very good deals on some things, and found out about others I didn't know existed. Overall, my life is very slightly enhanced by these advertisements. Amazon could send me deceptive advertising, trying to get me to buy something I really don't want, and it might be short-term profitable. The result would be I'd automatically junk email from Amazon, and they'd lose out on a small but continuing revenue scheme. Amazon has incentive to make sure I find the advertising useful, and to make it point to things I want as often as they can. They have incentive to make sure I don't buy something from them based on their advertising that I am disappointed with because it really wasn't as described.

If you show my how YttriumOxide's .sig or Amazon's emails are harming me, I'll at least consider your thesis that all advertising is bad. Not until.

Comment Re:NSA (Probably) installed one Anyway (Score 1) 360

Your kernel may not need an internal firewall. Mine certainly doesn't.

However, on a system with numerous users and various data files that only some people should have access to, it can be vital to have a reliable mechanism to run programs and handle users with minimum privileges and access. It can reduce various attack surfaces. It's fundamentally a security feature for people who need strong internal security, or who just want confidential files on a system not-entirely-trusted users are allowed onto.

Comment Re:Type safety (Score 1) 360

No, I'm going to say that the base problem is C's lack of a boolean type. Because of that, C takes anything that could reasonably be said to be equal to zero as false, and everything else as true. Given an actual boolean type, a conditional statement could require a boolean expression and flag anything else as an error. The ability to use the value of an assignment statement is occasionally convenient, but the ability to use it as a condition is a serious problem.

C's use of = and == as operators is a bit problematic, but Pascal's := is a pain. On every single computer or terminal keyboard I've used in the past forty years, either the : is shifted xor the = is shifted, which means that I have to change the shift key in the middle of an operator. It's not as annoying as some of the other things with Pascal, but it's a bit of a pain.

Comment Re:OMG enough (Score 1) 360

Having been a CVS admin, over ten years ago....

CVS was originally a set of scripts over the ancient RCS, and (at least when I ran it) used the RCS file format. This is, essentially, the current text of the file followed by change records in reverse order for the trunk and increasing order for branches (and when there were a lot of revisions on both trunk and branch after the branching point, things got slow). There were no checksums, so files could get corrupted, likely losing history. Each file had its own ,v RCS file in the repository. You could build a repository by creating the framework and moving in ,v files.

This means that, to alter foo.c without a commit, one would have to get write access to foo.c,v in the repository, and simply make the change. To keep the repository consistent, the change couldn't change the number of lines, as the change records depended on line numbers.

All other modern or semi-modern VCSs that I know of have their own file format, and require some more sophistication than a permissions hack (assuming permissions were properly set in the first place) and using vi on the obvious file.

Comment Re:All the observed data is perfectly normal (Score 1) 130

Science definitely is performed by consensus. If there's a consensus on something, that's good reason to believe it, and scientists will build on that in further work. Naturally the consensus is always subject to revision, but it's very likely to be correct. If it's incorrect, it's likely to be in interpretation rather than measurement.

What do you think the scientific consensus that opposed Galileo was? He didn't get into trouble for heliocentrism, which Copernicus had already given good arguments for. Any educated astronomer would know of Copernicus and his theories. Moreover, the disagreements were about interpretations, not data.

Scientists have been wrong on theories (phlogiston, anybody?), but I'm not aware of any case where a consensus has been thoroughly wrong on the data. Nobody knew how black-body radiation worked before Planck, but the observations were detailed enough for him to propose his famous constant.

I find the idea of scientists deliberately using unscientific data incredible. Scientists, as a rule, are aiming at the truth. They dislike being proven wrong. They don't, in general, knowingly risk their reputations by deliberately using bad data. (Scientists are not particularly well-paid, and value their reputations.) If the data were as you represent it, there would be large numbers of scientists pointing that out. Since I have not observed that, the odds that my personal examination of the data would show something climate scientists as a whole miss seem sufficiently low that I'm not going to bother.

If you can come up with a credible reason why all those scientists would be blindly using bad data, that would alter my opinion on whether to do my own examination. (The claim that they're faking things to keep the grants coming is not credible.)

Comment Re:Sure, to lower paying jobs (Score 1) 674

Phoenix? I live in Minneapolis, which is (IIRC) about the same size metro area. The cost of living is considerably lower than on the coasts. I've never been paid as much as the Computerworld salary survey says is average.

This means I find your budget hard to believe. I'm not trying to live frugally, but I have made estimates of how low I could cut monthly expenses. Part of that is heating, but not that horribly much. Your budget is far short of what I think I'd need, no matter what. (I also don't have nearly your heat resistance, particularly after the heart attack, but that's somewhat irrelevant.) I get auto insurance at the "safe driver" rate, and minimum liability (I carry more) would be considerably more than $40/month.

Comment Re:Sure, to lower paying jobs (Score 3) 674

Your budget has no allowance for heating or cooling. Your cable internet is half of the lowest rate where I live. Your auto insurance is ludicrously low by standards around here. You haven't mentioned health insurance, or homeowner's insurance. I don't know how many people you live with, but $100/month/person as mortgage will not buy much of anything.

In other words, you live in a place with extremely low cost of living. Houses are very cheap and the climate is very temperate. You are relying on being generally healthy, which is a potential disaster. You don't talk about savings, so it's unlikely you can replace your stuff all that easily, and you aren't preparing for retirement.

It really wouldn't take much to wipe you out. You're all right where you are as long as nothing bad happens. If somebody crashes into your car and you're injured, you're SOL.

What you seem to be saying is that poverty-level income can be fine provided you live in exactly the right area, are young and healthy, don't prepare for the future, and don't have any bad luck.

Comment Re:Public knowledge (Score 1) 201

Sometimes one side will skip the attempt-a-settlement phase and just file suit. Why should the second party be barred from seeking a settlement? A settlement means that neither side will have overwhelming legal expenses, and it takes a load off the courts. Remember that filing suit is a unilateral action, and I can "go to court" completely unwillingly.

Your second paragraph misses any point I can discern. Assuming the story is as presented, the leak came from nobody with a contract with Apple, and so contract law is inapplicable here.

Let's go through this slowly. A court ordered Apple's lawyers to provide certain information to Samsung's lawyers. In this case, it was patent deals. It could have been any confidential information. Apple's lawyers complied with the legal order. So far, Apple is simply complying with the law, and indeed not supplying that information to Samsung's lawyers would have been illegal. Since Apple has been legally compelled to reveal confidential information, the court system needs to have some way of protecting that information.

If we make Apple responsible for keeping its secrets, then Apple can avoid supplying any information it can reasonably describe as confidential. This means that civil suits are nearly impossible, as discovery simply doesn't work. If we make Apple hand over confidential information without protecting it, then no company can reliably keep confidential information, since anybody can file suit and ask for that information in discovery. The only way a company can keep information confidential while still allowing civil suits to go on is to have court orders to produce information and court orders to protect information. If you have a reasonable idea on how to avoid those problems, please let us know.

If you don't like that reason for private agreements, how about this one? Any business transaction that isn't the equivalent of cash-for-stuff involves a contract. A commitment for one side to do something in the future involves a contract. That includes things like magazine subscriptions and website subscriptions (contracts do not have to be particularly formal). Now, suppose you subscribe to Furry Porn Quarterly. If all contracts are public record, then anybody can ask for their subscription list. Alternately, imagine that somebody brings suit against FPQ, Inc., making claims relevant to the subscription list. Furry Porn Quarterly is therefore ordered to hand over their subscription list to the plaintiff's lawyers. With no restriction on them, those lawyers can then publish the list

Comment Re:PR Spin (Score 1) 201

Where do you get the idea that overpricing is unethical? Are you claiming there is some divinely ordained price or price range? Or that you should have authority to set prices? From my point of view, a price is something that is mutually agreeable to buyer and seller, to be determined empirically, and an overpriced item is one not worth the price to the buyer.

You can make an argument that overcharging (in some sense of the word) for necessities is immoral, but Apple doesn't make anything actually necessary, and has plenty of competition for everything it sells. If you think Apple overcharges for something, you can easily buy something more or less equivalent from somebody else.

Therefore, people buy Apple products because, to them, the product is worth more than the money they spend on it. In an unforced market with sufficient available information and no compulsion to buy any given thing, like every market Apple is involved in, a sale is a win-win transaction at the time it is made.

The fact is that Apple does a very good job in most (not all) of the things it does, and this is valued by enough people so that Apple can sell a whole lot of stuff at the prices they set. Their prices may be more than you want to pay, and that's fine. Buy something else. You may value different things than most Apple customers, and that's fine. Buy something else. Just don't pretend that your preferences are universal, or even uniquely privileged.

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It isn't easy being the parent of a six-year-old. However, it's a pretty small price to pay for having somebody around the house who understands computers.