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Comment Re:Democracy (Score 5, Insightful) 264

Last I checked, Democracy is what gave us the Surveillance State.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

It's not exactly an accident that the NSA legitimized their mass surveillance through the PATRIOT act.

Comment Re:Good luck with that. (Score 1) 165

So it's a tall order but the NSA doesn't have infinite resources nor infinite clout particularly not outside of US jurisdiction. Infiltrators are always possible but also high-risk endeavors with huge political consequences. You can at least try to make the risk/reward ratio seem unappealing. After all, the current standards were made when strong encryption was neither computationally feasible nor publicly available. The main downside is that people don't want to carry around their encryption keys so I think you'd have to define at least three security levels:

1) The server does the decryption for you, trust the server
2) You download the encrypted message and your encrypted private key and must input a secure password (read: long) to decrypt, either once (stored on device) or every time.
3) You bring the encryption key yourself.

Honestly, already just the first one would be pretty damn good.... I want to email, the server asks for his public key and verifies through DNSSEC that I'm actually talking to then provides his public key back to my local client/javascipt webclient. I can verify the fingerprint, message is encrypted client side and sent to server. The server transports it over SSL to the destination server, not even metadata snooping unless you 0wn any of the servers or SSL itself. That's my side secure, the rest is up to the recipient and how paranoid he is. For example a corporation might feel their corporate email server and internal network is secure enough, there's no need to have personal passwords for every employee. The mail server at receives it, decrypts it and you collect it the old way.

The problem is getting the network effect kicked in, email has value because everyone else has email. If nobody has a clients or servers that talk the new protocol it won't go anywhere.

Comment Re:Data (Score 1) 204

The usual SciFi trope is that 'Maths is the Universal language', and data is just Maths.

Well, we've never tried deciphering a language that anyone has made a genuine effort to make it so. Math has some really simple patterns that make it easy to distinguish from noise like 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 or in binary
101 000
10101 000
101010101 000
1010101010101 000
101010101010101010101 000
1010101010101010101010101 000
From there I'd probably just repeat [x,y,pictogram of x*y bits] with silence to space them. I'd probably start with "illustrated math" to show like
1 + 1 = 2
. + . = ..
2 + 1 = 3
.. + . = ...
I think the pattern should be fairly obvious no matter what kind of math they use. After we finish basic math then basic elements as pictograms, the "shell configuration" of electrons should be easily recognizable and universal. After that maybe try to derive the SI units (like kilo = hydrogen atom * big number) and start describing the universe as we know it. Honestly, it doesn't seem *that* hard as long as we aren't looking at a random scroll that may contain anything at all and makes no attempt to be decipherable by itself.

Comment Re:Tired of this nonsense (Score 1) 548

Democracy is bad. Censor that shit right away! -burn all those books.

And if they wanted to repeal the first amendment, it'd be different. But it's a pretty basic freedom to vote with your wallet and boycott stores that engage in whatever business practice you disagree with, whether it's installing rootkits (hey Sony) or animal testing or dealing in "smut" whatever your idea of that might be. The rest is just business, there's no law against having an sex shop in your mall or showing a porn movie in your cinema but if you're a profit-maximizing business you might go for the "family friendly" profile instead. The smart businessmen simply split the front-end while sharing the back-end, totally different name but same warehouses. I'm sure this will work out the same way, the charade seems to keep everybody happy.

Comment Re:Western? (Score 3, Interesting) 214

Depends on how much the brain drain is permanent, right after their degree I know many, many of my fellow students that were free as a bird and would jump at the opportunity to work abroad, international work experience, culture, language, seeing the world and so on. Then they think about starting a family and homesickness sets in like a homing beacon. It's one thing to travel around as a hired gun to the highest bidder, it's another to raise kids in a foreign culture. Grandparents want to see their grandchildren and so on. Of course there are two parents, maybe the compromise is neither or they both want to stay but if a fair percentage return home with foreign work experience it might pay off well. It shouldn't be ignored that if you have made decent money in the US you're a rich man in India if you choose to return there.

Comment Re:Cool, but why? (Score 1) 35

Isn't Mesa software rendering? I've never found it to be anything but abysmal performance. Why does anyone use it?

Mesa is many things, among them a huge graphics library to support the OpenGL API, a reference software rendering driver and a bunch of hardware accelerated drivers. The only reason to use the software rendering is to test accelerated drivers or because you don't have a choice and in the past you didn't really have a lot of choice. Today AMD and Intel has official open drivers, for nVidia there's the community built Nouveau that all have good hardware acceleration support, so it's pretty hard to find a graphics card that will be unaccelerated. But if you buy a brand new graphics card right after release it might still be a period between they get modesetting working (read: you get a picture) and 2D/3D acceleration working where you're back to software rendering.

Comment Re:Dumber and dumber (Score 3, Interesting) 233

My dad installed aftermarket cruise control for the first time because a drive that should have taken 5 hours took 3.

If cruise control is the difference between 3 hours at 50 mph average and 5 hours at 30 mph average then there's something very seriously wrong with his driving skills. Yeah some people don't stick to the posted speed limits but the road rage and percieved loss is vasty exaggerated compared to actual time lost. Spending five minutes behind a guy that does 48 mph instead of 60 mph feels like forever but all it means is an hour's drive takes 61 minutes instead of 60. I don't know how it could take two hours longer unless he's practically asleep at the wheel and constantly down to half the posted limit.

Comment Re:Except... (Score 1) 233

Second, for #2 it's the chicken or egg: As more cars get the parking assists, this'll happen less and less. Also, in many cases you can get into your car from the passenger side and then switch to the driver's seat if it's that bad.

As more and more cars get parking assists it'll happen more and more that it's tightly parked on both sides of your car boxing you in. On the other hand, if the parking assists make an effort to park in the middle of every parking spot where possible you might end up with less squeezed places to begin with.

Comment Re:And the pilot? (Score 1) 249

Typical pilots don't die mid-flight.

Humans tend to have a non-zero risk of sudden death, a quick Google search shows that a United Airlines pilot bound for Seattle had a heart attack and eventually died as recently as September 27th. It just becomes painfully obvious if that pilot is the only one qualified to fly the plane, but it's hardly unique. After all there are a lot of small passenger planes going places with one pilot and no crew, if the pilot has a medical emergency there aren't really any alternatives..

Comment Re:C/C++ operator = (Score 1) 360

Personally if I was designing a language I'd ban the single = operator and use := for plain assignment and == for comparison. Compound assignment like += could remain the way they are. Is it extremely unnatural and annoying to write stuff like if (3 == foo ), I'd be a lot more obvious and a lot less likely to be a typo if it had to say if( foo := 3 ) to do something bad. Of course it could still be a brain fart, but a pretty bad one at that.

Comment Re:This should be a good thing (Score 1) 754

I hardly think it's a bad thing that people expect you to take part in the effort to take part in the spoils. Imagine you had a farmer who did all the work of plowing the field, sowing seeds, clearing weeds, fertilizing, harvesting, grinding to flour and baking the bread then along comes this guy and says I'm hungry, feed me. Maybe you're a good farmer that work long and hard and actually have more bread than you need, but I'd still tell you to pick up a shovel and help out if you want any. Then it's all tractors and machinery so the guy says he doesn't know how to use one, well you still say then learn and help out. Then it's semi-autonomous agriculture drones so the guy says he doesn't know how to maintain one, well you still say then learn and help out. Or do any other work you have.

With no offense to my current employer which is quite nice, all other things being equal I'd rather not work and have all week free to pursue whatever interests I feel like. I'm sure even the people who don't live for the paycheck could come up with an equally or even more interesting job if the paycheck was guaranteed anyway. So what's really to say that the people who pretend they can't do a job can't actually do a job? I can seem pretty damn inept if I try, it rewards more good acting than honesty. The less people who work, the more I'd demand getting paid for being one of those that do. Unfair? Well it's not my fault you can't do my job, if you want it then train for it and take it. I'd lose the job but I'd also get all the freedoms of not working.

Comment Re:Chicken Little (Score 2) 754

Since then unemployment has been slowly but steadily falling back towards what passes for steady state norms.

Mainly because in the US "unemployed" is a rather narrow segment of those not working. In 2007 there were 7.0 million unemployed (4.6%) and 4.7 million outside the labor force who wanted a job, in 2013 there is now 11.3 million unemployed (7.3%) and 6.5 million outside the labor force who want a job. In other words apart from the demographic changes of a aging population about 1.8 million have left the labor force so they don't get counted towards the unemployment statistics. The employment-population ratio is still 58.6%, it's been at or over 61.5% through the entire 90s and 00s up to the crisis. Yes it's also not getting worse but it's a very, very weak recovery so far.

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