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Comment The most important line of air defense... (Score 2, Informative) 582

was completed by early morning on 11 September 2001.

Once upon a time, people hijacked airplanes. Airplanes were flown to Cuba, Russia, Taiwan, Mainland China, Africa, wherever people wanted to go for whatever personal or political axes they had to grind.

After this, the ICAO convened a treaty in 1970 which required that any country that flew airplanes treat hijacking as a felony. No exceptions. In the old days, if an airline pilot flew from (China/Taiwan) to (Taiwan/China), he would get gold, women, his name in the paper, etc. as a propaganda tool to show that (Capitalism/Communism) was a superior form of government which people yearned for. No more. Do that today, you go to prison. Period.

Even wacky countries we don't like much like Libya, Cuba, North Korea, etc. are signatories to this treaty. Hijack an airplane, go to jail. No exceptions. Anywhere.

It was a very effective treaty. As a result, a set of "rules of engagement" came up around hijacking. Keep calm. Don't make any sudden moves. Fly the airplane wherever in the world the hijackers want to go. Wherever you land, there will be negotiators if they play nice, and SWAT teams in reserve if they don't. Getting in a fight in the air can only endanger innocent people's lives.

After 2001, nobody is EVER going to follow those rules of engagement again.

Comment Re:What's up, eh? (Score 0) 227

I heard it was pretty good, but then it turns out they must be dumping oil in the rivers and feeding toxic waste to seals.

It's good in the national mythology. Beautiful soaring mountains, pristine lakes. Verdant forests. I saw it on the CBC, so it must be true! (All those things do exist. I've been to them. They're really cool).

The reality is that British Columbia is a giant clearcut once you go more than 100 km from Vancouver, and the prairie is being torn up as fast as possible in Alberta to get to the black gold that lies beneath.

Comment Re:Worth about as much (Score 1) 227

Well, you do need to work on that bit in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which allows for prior restraint. (i.e. you have freedom of speech until a judge rules that you don't).

The issue here is that an ISP outside of Canada got a nastygram from the Government of Canada and folded like origami paper rather than saying "We're sorry. This is not Canada. Please feel free to seek legal remedy from a court in this jurisdiction and we will comply with that request immediately!"

Comment Re:because no one wants to define the right (Score 1) 565

Once someone can define universal health care in appropriate terms instead of just being a buzz word maybe those of us who don't favor the idea will think twice.

Sure. I'll take that one.

Most of it comes down to that the economics of health care are unlike normal social services.

If you are a "hardship case", you get a bag of rice, a gallon of milk, and a block of government cheese. Want a steak for dinner? Good. Go out and get a job. We have decided as a society that it's better if you not starve, but don't see any need to subsidize you in high style.

The way the health care system works right now is the opposite of that. Have a toothache? Need to see a dentist to get it worked on? Can't help you there.

Once your toothache turns into a full-on abscess, and you're in danger of dying from it, yes, you can go to the ER to have it worked on. Rather than being the "government cheese" version of medical care, this will cost many multiples of what it would have cost to have the problem worked on when it was a garden-variety toothache.

But wait, it gets better! Of course, being indigent, the person who gets their abscess lanced, filled with antibiotics, and a day or two of bed stay at the hospital won't actually PAY for that. That is an unreimbursed expense that the hospital bears. Someone does pay for that of course. That "someone" is you and me, people with proper jobs and good insurance.

The economics of the current system discourage preventative care, and provide incentives for both the providers and the patients to seek out expensive treatments. While I'll cop to being a bleeding-heart liberal in a lot of respects, the argument for universal care can be cooked down to dollars and cents. The so-called "market-based" plan that exists now is not particularly competitive, and does not do a good job of providing financial efficiencies.

One of the biggest lies in the current debate is the line that "nobody should come between a patient and their doctor". Unfortunately, doctors are a lot like software engineers. If left to their own devices, they'll go for complex and gorgeous solutions rather than simple and effective ones. If left on a project without any oversight, they'll keep fiddling to wring out that last little bit of speed.

Software engineers generally have managers who tote a whip and say "that's wonderful. The milestone is in 3 weeks, and you will have code to ship at that point." Doctors are seldom managed at all, and if they are, it's by other doctors. If we translate "doctor" to "software engineer" and imagine a project where a bunch of engineers are turned loose with money flowing in to pay their salaries as fast as possible and no oversight, that's a recipe for disaster. In health care, it's "letting the free market do its job".

Comment Re:79% accuracy ... (Score 1) 132

.. you notice that it's backed up by similar interviews on video all over the net? Americans who think that the US invaded Israel, who point to Australia and think it's Iraq, etc...

I'm not going to stand up for Americans' knowledge of the world beyond their borders (of their country or their county), but remember that the interviews you often see on the net are the result of hours of interviews cooked down to the 4 minutes which are the funniest and most outrageous.

The reality IS bad, don't get me wrong, but it's not THAT bad!

Science

Programmable Quantum Computer Created 132

An anonymous reader writes "A team at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) used berylium ions, lasers and electrodes to develop a quantum system that performed 160 randomly chosen routines. Other quantum systems to date have only been able to perform single, prescribed tasks. Other researchers say the system could be scaled up. 'The researchers ran each program 900 times. On average, the quantum computer operated accurately 79 percent of the time, the team reported in their paper.'"

Comment Re:*First post.. (Score 1) 590

Average salaries are sometimes rather misleading. One issue with education is that it's highly seniority based.

Here's the salary schedule for the Seattle Public Schools:

http://www.seattlewea.org/images/static_content/certsalary0910.pdf

The SOONEST a teacher can break 50K is after 7 years of service, if they have a PhD.

In general, it takes 10 years to hit the 50K mark.

Stay in your chair long enough, get enough college credits, and the pay gets all the way up to "OK".

Would any of you guys give up your tech jobs for pay like that?

Comment Re:First post.. (Score 1) 590

Obviously lesson plans produced at government funded public schools should be kept free and open so that they can be effectively refined and tailored for specific environments.

I think it depends on the district, the teacher, and the material.

The district my children are in (Seattle) has been notoriously chaotic about dispensing curriculum and lesson plans. In the name of fostering academic freedom, choices about textbooks and curriculum are devolved to the individual schools and frequently the individual teachers (schools not being given a budget for a curriculum developer). Only in the last few years has there been any central curriculum development whatsoever.

In this case, the teachers design these plans outside of regular work hours on their own nickel. I'd say the curriculum no more belongs to the school than the web apps you make on your off-hours belong to your employer.

Another district across the lake (Bellevue) takes exactly the opposite tact. Their curriculum is highly standardized and highly centralized. Teachers are given detailed lesson plans and materials and are expected to execute those faithfully.

In that case, you have a curriculum which is developed by a taxpayer-funded district, by a professional curriculum coordinator, and very clearly falls into the public domain.

In between, I suppose there are a lot of gray areas, but I don't have enough exposure to teaching to comment on that.

Comment Re:I call bullshit (Score 1) 1345

(disclaimer: I found your post on TAGMAX. I went to finishing school for a good three days or so, and am not going to argue homeschooling on a list full of homeschoolers. Slashdot, however, is fair game).

First, saying that parents who send their children to "government sponsored day care" are lazy is showing a tremendous quantity of prejudice. Do you KNOW any parents of public schooled kids, or are you so far in the bubble that they don't exist in your life?

I don't have any objections to homeschooling per se (I'm on TAGMAX, so I follow what people are doing and apply as much of this as possible when I can). However, parents approach to schooling and education can be extremely engaged when one's child is in public school as well. You have a choice as to whether you spend your evenings blobbing out over the TV, or reading books together, doing computer programming, teaching them to cook, etc.

You are a former teacher and have the intellectual and academic chops for the job. Good on you. I genuinely believe your children are getting a first-class education from you.

Where my issues arise is that I personally know homeschoolers who pulled their children out of school for fear of them being taught evolution, or "moral relativism" (whatever in Eris's sake that means), etc. These are not particularly bright or worldly people. You talk to their kids and there are some pretty severe gaps in their view of the world, and I have to put the responsibility for this directly on their, uhm, "teachers".

I think where we would agree is that parents have an immense role in the education of their children. If you drop your kids off at "government sponsored daycare", pick them up later, and think no more of it, you won't get good results. If you use the day's school lessons as a jumping off point for more discussion and inquiry, you're getting somewhere.

There's one lingering question I have which has never been satisfactorily answered. Perhaps you can help. Advocates for homeschooling say early and often that homeschooled kids perform above average in academics. In my home state of Washington, children who go through the district's homeschool resource centers get to take our wonderful standardized achievement test (the WASL). While the pass scores ARE above average when you take in the population set as a whole, when they are compared against their socio-economic peers (homeschoolers are generally an economically pretty well-off bunch) the average pass rates are considerably below average.

Perhaps it's not a representative sample, and the only ones who are going to these centers are kids the state thinks are struggling at home. Do you know anything about this?

Comment Re:Safety first? (Score 1) 410

Numerically impaired?

Nope. I count fine thanks.

The study was interesting, and I should be very precise in what I am saying, which the study does not refute.

Let's split hairs between "high level of ownership" and "easy access". Because everyone gets all weird when we talk about guns, I'll go back to cars.

If I want to drive a car in Italy, I am required by law to take a $3000 course which runs over several months. I'll do a rigorous written and driving test. After this, I will be allowed to drive a car.

If I want to drive a car in Washington State (the province South of BC, aka the bits that you guys didn't want), I will take a 10-minute multiple choice exam and not scare the examiner too badly as I drive a rigorous 1 km course followed by demonstrating my mad parallel parking skillz in an uncrowded lot.

As any vistor to Italy can see, there is a high level of car ownership. However, there is NOT easy access to car ownership.

The study is simply correlating per capita ownership to levels of violence and accidents and demonstrating that ownership alone does not correlate to accidents or violence. I find this very easy to believe. The inference that you are drawing, which the study appears to be completely mute on is what correlation there is between violence/accidents and ease of access to firearms. This is admittedly a much harder value to correlate. There are differing laws (and legal systems) in the jurisdictions mentioned in your study. While levels of ownership and numbers of injuries and deaths are easily quantifiable values, legal restrictions are not.

However, if you assert there is no correlation between ease of access and violence/accident levels, I find that very difficult to believe. I'm very patient, and will be delighted to compare Washington and Ontario law with you to build my case.

Comment Re:Safety first? (Score 1) 410

What's not a mystery is that, in the US, firearm-related accident rates are plummeting as legal gun ownership steadily increases. Parents are teaching their kids safe handling, and those kids aren't involved in tragedies.

Yes, but firearm-related accident rates are dramatically higher than anyplace else in the Western world due to easy access to firearms.

I'll frame my feelings on this subject this way:

1) The Supreme Court has made it resoundingly clear that the Second Amendment gives a broad personal right to own firearms. Even if I believed in gun control (I don't), it would be unconstitutional, and unless a ban was in place everywhere (see below), piecemeal bans do nothing but punish law-abiding citizens.

2) There are large swaths of the United States where hunting, shooting at animals that eat crops, etc. are regular parts of life. A blanket ban everywhere would be really incredibly dumb, and, oh yeah, unconstitutional (see above).

3) 99.999% of legal firearm owners are not a threat to me or anyone else. It's that last 0.001% that ruins it for everyone.

4) I think the argument that guns protect personal freedoms is pretty much pure poppycock. The State has you outgunned. Deal with it. Concern with being voted out of office weighs in the minds of most politicians 1000x more than fear of civil uprising does.

5) All these things being true, I find it a little unnerving that any space alien off the street can walk into a store and buy a gun. I would really prefer that some sort of licensing be set up. I don't really want to restrict anyone's right to own a gun any more than I want to restrict anyone's right to drive a car. I'd just prefer a speed bump be set up to demonstrate that you're somewhat competent to handle a gun, not bare-wires crazy, and to insure that someone's right to bear a gun goes away when they think that an appropriate use of their Second Amendment rights extends to shooting their rifle in the air during Halloween or the Fourth of July in my crowded urban neighborhood.

I got a license to drive a car over 20 years ago. I rarely even think about it. I follow my end of the deal, don't get liquored up before driving, and don't try find out if my car will really go up to 140 on I-90 at rush hour[1], and everyone's cool.

The ability to do common-sense regulation of firearms seems to get clouded by these slippery slope arguments that today it's just a license, and tomorrow they're going to come and take your guns away.

[1] That's what God made Eastern Washington for! And yes it does!

Comment Re:BooHoo (Score 1) 789

AT&T has a profit margin of 10%. If you think that is insanely high... I'd rather not be in business with you.

While I don't think AT&T releases profits by divisions of the company, I am writing from inside of one of those sections and don't think I'm giving away any big secrets by telling an illustrating factoid.

Much of the "bulk" of AT&T is the landline business. This is a high-cost, low margin business which is being eaten away at by VOIP, cable companies, attrition to mobile solutions, etc. Another poster asked about how to spend 100 billion dollars. Payroll for 300,000 employees is one way. Rooms full of expensive equipment is another.

There is a much smaller segment of the company involved in mobility solutions (cell phones/HSDPA/etc.) That divison of the company is quite profitable, thank you very much.

Comment Re:This should be a lesson... (Score 1) 780

er... aren't file systems usually linked lists? Meaning that if you manage to recover the first piece, you can then locate all the others.

Yeah, but... It depends on how that linked list is structured. // DISCLAIMER: I AM A UNIX ADMIN. TAKE ANYTHING I SAY ABOUT WINDOWS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.

In the old DOS (FAT) world, the linked list was integral to the data on disk. So what you say is exactly correct. Find the header of the file, and you can trace through the file system and find the rest. This gets back to the idea of known text. If I find a chunk of disk with a JPEG header, I can look at the end of the data sector and find the reference to the next sector. I don't know if NTFS works this way. I kind of doubt it.

In the UNIX/Linux world, that linked list is stored in a structure called an inode. When you open a UNIX directory, there's a file name, and a reference to an inode number, from which all of your disk location data can be derived. Now, the downside of this is, once you've lost your inode, you have lost ALL reference to the file behind it. When a UNIX file is unlinked, the inode number in the directory is set to 0.

In theory, you can find a sector on disk that contains data you want to recover, and then track back through unallocated or released inode structures to recover the inode of your now deleted file. It's not trivial to do this. Look at the inode structure in /usr/include/sys on your friendly local Linux box and you'll see what I mean pretty quickly.

Comment Re:This should be a lesson... (Score 4, Interesting) 780

Unless you have overwritten the area on the physical disk that contained the data, multiple times, the data can still be recovered.

The DoD spec is written as it is for a reason. Given a drive with confidential data on it, an unauthorized person attempting to access the drive does not need to get everything back to pristine condition. Even recovering a small part of the total data set can cause incalculable damage if it's the right small part. The value of sites like Avsim are in the whole rather than the sum of the parts.

I've recovered data off of formatted HDD's, off of corrupted file systems, off of compact flash cards and other media (Really useful if you want to keep those photo's that someone thought was deleted, be aware of this people).

There's a large dependency on what you're trying to recover off of. DOS/NTFS are fairly easy to do recovers from. The first character of the filename is zilched out and the rest of the data to find the file is left intact. UNIX/Linux filesystems are a bear. Once you hit "rm", you've lost the ref to your inode. Putting Humpty Dumpty together again at that point becomes nearly impossible because the record which shows where all the pieces are is lost to you. If you have known text from the file, and a good knowledge of how the filesystem works, you should be able to backtrack. Otherwise? God help you.

There's also an issue of how the data is stored. A single-drive system is fairly straightforward. 2 drives are harder. Once you get into a SAN/NAS where data is spread over multiple drives, recovery of even a single file with known text becomes tricky. Multiple files? Unknown data? The only hope I would see at that point is to put a large segment of the Slashdot community on the problem and tell them a large trove of high-res pictures of Natalie Portman completely nekkid are stored within.

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