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Comment why are weapons of mass destruction an exception? (Score 1) 90

"The last thing we need is awesome tech only spies and generals possess (weapons of mass destruction/contamination being a notable exception). "

Just curious - why do you exclude these (weapons of mass destruction) from your definition of technology=good if everybody has it? It suggests you are declaring that the declaration that technology should be accessible to all is qualified by value judgements - who gets to make the judgement call? you, me, random person in Afghanistan/Bolivia/Estonia? the UN?

If nuclear weapons are not ok, how about large aerial launched bombs/missiles? How about hand grenades? or hand guns? wonder what the qualifying point is and how you came to it.

News

Boy Scouts Bully Hacker Scouts Into Submission 289

b1tbkt writes "Youth-focused Maker organization 'Hacker Scouts' has announced their decision to surrender their name due to bullying by the Boy Scouts of America. It appears that BSA has interpreted their federal charter to include a claim on any and all use of the term 'Scout' in an organization's name. The litmus test for such a claim, so far as I'm aware, is the likelihood of causing confusion. The term 'Scout' is sufficiently generic, though, and by this reasoning most every airline in the world would need to eliminate 'Airlines' from their name."

Comment poor article summary: reason in the In Serbia mag. (Score 4, Interesting) 95

Poor slashdot article summary, the In Serbia magazine explains more clearly why this was done: the authors did it to ridicule the "hyperproduction of quasi-scientific works by Serbian professors that are published in the magazines of dubious quality" - they are having a pop at Serbian professors knocking out poor quality rubbish with more concern for volume than quality, and to where ever they can get them published. That said, I'd say this implies there's some definitive criticism at the low editorial quality of the Romanian publication for taking the article without identifying it as a hoax, and probably some commentary on the pressures of being a Serbian academic, looks like their universities or national funding bodies put them under pressure to produce volume and don't look too carefully at the quality when deciding how to fund their researchers.

Censorship

Dentist Who Used Copyright To Silence Her Patients Drops Out of Sight 260

According to a report at Ars Technica, a dentist named Stacy Makhnevich, who billed herself as "the Classical Singer Dentist of New York," threatened patients who wrote bad Yelp reviews with lawsuits, along the same lines as the online dental damage-control outlined in a different Ars story in 2011. This time, though, there's something even stranger than bargaining with patients to forgo criticism: when a patient defied that demand by describing his experience in negative terms on Yelp, Makhnevich followed up on the threat by seeking a takedown order based on copyright (putatively signed over to her for any criticism that patients might write, post-visit) — then disappeared entirely when lawyers for patient Robert Lee filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the validity of the agreement.
Transportation

787 Dreamliner On Fire Again 246

Antipater writes "It looks like there's more trouble afoot for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner: London's Heathrow Airport was shut down for over an hour as fire crews attended to a 'suspected fire' on a Dreamliner owned by Ethiopia Airlines. 'Aerial pictures of the scene on the U.K.'s Sky News showed the new plane — which was not carrying passengers at the time — had been sprayed by foam, but there were no signs of fire. The aircraft was not blocking either runway, but with all the airport's fire crews tackling the Boeing 787 incident, authorities were forced to suspend departures and arrivals because of safety rules.'"

Comment Indeed, something you check when you buy a house (Score 1) 375

Indeed. When you buy a house in the UK that's pre-1940s and in an urban area you check to see if there's historical bomb damage: often places got patched up quickly with available materials and 70 years later the substandard fixes can be decaying, cracks opening etc.

I often wonder if this is one of the reasons people in the USA seem so much more enthusiastic about going to war than Europeans - we can still see the evidence around us in the architecture and people are still alive who have frightening memories of how it affected them at home. Next time you're in London check the front of the Victoria and Albert museum, you can still see the shrapnel damage to the stone work.

19th century housing here is just standard for lots of people.It's waht you rent when you're a student. I prefer it to modern places: the latter are mainly wood built and thrown up quickly. I know the place I bought (late C19th, typical urban red bricker starter home) has been through two wars and hasn't moved in 130 years so it's likely to outlive me :-)

Comment yup our mates thought our 8 mile commute was crazy (Score 1) 375

Ha ha, well said both.

When I was a junior postdoc I was renting a house built in 1729 with bits from the previous build still showing, early 1500s sections of wall and doorways. And our friends thought we were insane coming in to college 8 miles each day. Me and my mates thought it beat living in the modern Victorian rubbish (houses built in 1880s) which were closer.

Comment Don't even start the geeks on Guy Fawkes (Score 1) 375

And don't even start the geeks on Guy Fawkes, him of the anonymous mask that they all wear made in Chinese state run factories, a Catholic royalist who was up for replacing one king who claimed his divine right with another just of a different religious flavour. Nothing in there about helping the poor/women's votes/ anarchism/open source data formats.

Submission + - Why are Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?

fantomas writes: The BBC reports on the Japanese phenomenon of Hikikomori: young people, mainly men, who are holed up in rooms in their parents' houses, refusing to go out and engage with society. Why is this happening? and is it a global phenomenon or something purely due to Japanese culture? (we're all familiar with the standing slashdot joke of the geek in their mom's basement for example)
Communications

French Gov't Runs Vast Electronic Spying Operation of Its Own 214

Freshly Exhumed writes with this news (quoting The Guardian): "France runs a vast electronic surveillance operation, intercepting and stocking data from citizens' phone and internet activity, using similar methods to the U.S. National Security Agency's Prism programme exposed by Edward Snowden, Le Monde has reported. An investigation by the French daily [en français; Google translation] found that the DGSE, France's external intelligence agency, had spied on the French public's phone calls, emails and internet activity. The agency intercepted signals from computers and phones in France as well as between France and other countries, looking not so much at content but to create a map of 'who is talking to whom,' the paper said."
Businesses

Employers Switching From Payroll Checks To Prepaid Cards With Fees 1103

An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports a growing number of American workers are being paid by prepaid payroll card. The cards often have fees attached to basic services like making a cash withdrawal or for inactivity. Some employees report that the employers pay by card by default, with paperwork barriers to opting out, and some report that their employers refuse to pay them by check or direct deposit. The issuing banks pitch the cards to employers as a cost-cutting payroll alternative, and sometimes even offer a financial reward for each employee they sign up."

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