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Comment Re:It's all in a name (Score 1) 221

The people you would approve of aren't running for office? Well gee, don't you think that could have something to do with our voting system?

First-past-the-post favors a two-party system and incumbents in particular. Right now, most rational independents wouldn't consider running for office, knowing they can't really win. That means that the independents that actually do run for office are few in number and either (1) know they can't win and just want a bit of spotlight for themselves or their message, or (2) are insane. It's no great surprise if you don't approve of any of them.

Mind you, all these single-seat election systems are very flawed: they always reject (N-1)/N of the candidates running, which means everyone that runs (apart from the forerunner) must be willing to burn lots of cash with low chances of success, which tends to favor rich people (and a few others who have either strong stomachs for failure, or delusions that they have a shot).

The other flaw with FPTP, IRV, Approval and so forth is that they assume that I want to vote for someone local. Where I live has nothing to do with who I want in the federal government! Why can't I choose among candidates across the country, or at least across the state? Give me Direct Representation! (not to be confused with direct democracy.)

Comment Re:So I suppose Obama (Score 1) 805

Technically espionage is just obtaining secret information in an illegal manner. Whistleblowing occasionally meets that definition, too. But the connotation of espionage is "state spying on potential or actual enemies primarily for military purposes" (from Wikipedia) whereas the goal of Wikileaks is to show us secret evils that are hidden from us, i.e. its goal is whistleblowing.

Now, I'm inclined to think that WikiLeaks' release of so many diplomatic cables was irresponsible, but WikiLeaks never did what they were commonly accused of, they never simply leaked 250,000 cables--they provided access to the cables to several news organizations in an encrypted archive, and IIRC less than 1000 of the cables were actually published or summarized by these news organizations.

Some time later, one of the news organizations foolishly made the password to decrypt the archive public in a book, but by that time the falsehood that "250,000 cables were published" was a popular belief.

Comment Re:imprisoned indefinitely without trial (Score 1) 805

You may be correct that the legal papers in the case and the extradition are all legit, with dotted Is and crossed Ts, but how likely is it that international extradition proceedings would be started against a man for having consensual sex that was turned out to be a little too agressive, or without a condom? To be sure it sounds like Assange was irresponsible, but it's hard to imagine that these proceedings would have started without political motives. Have you seen Naomi Wolf's take on it?

See also

You're right that the "enemy of state" thing is overstated and hyperbolic (an eyeball grabber - "made you look!") but there is no doubt that some U.S. mucky-mucks are extremely pissed at WikiLeaks. I bet some of them would be happy to punish Assange by any means necessary, to discourage anyone else from ever leaking classified information. Collateral murder is not the kind of thing you want to be public.

Comment Re:All Edison's fault (Score 1) 1080

One thing my uncle noticed about CFLs were that they may make incandescents last longer if you mix incandescents and CFLs in the same light fixture: the CFL has a large initial power draw, which lowers the current flowing through the incandescent in the first one or two seconds of operation, allowing the traditional light bulb to light up more slowly, extending its lifespan.

Comment Re:Play God (Score 4, Insightful) 455

Or, you could just not worry about this weird video because it had well under 10,000 views before it appeared on Slashdot and currently has only 22 likes. And half of those likes may come from people that enjoy watching crazy nutters. The only harm comes from people believing the video, and the Slashdot crowd won't.

Comment Re:not bad (Score 4, Informative) 170

Google's numbers are especially tame. 300 million watts (total) is far below one watt per user (gmail alone has at least 350 million accounts). Certainly if you use Google services on your 30-watt laptop, you use more power than Google uses to serve you. According to Google, "in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than Google uses to answer your query."

Since Google offers almost all services for free, it has a strong incentive to minimize resources per user. I expect the paid services are the ones that use the bulk of the energy, but all data centers together are still a tiny fraction of total worldwide power usage.

Comment Re:OPUS (Score 1) 361

Neil young would not be impressed. Opus is dedicated to being lossy; it specifically discards anything the human ear can't hear. Opus only supports 16 bit Stereo up to 48kHz (multiple Opus streams are required for e.g. 5.1 audio), and what's more, Opus will discard all frequencies above 20 kHz, no matter how high you make the bit rate. Even if you make the bitrate so high that you might as well be using FLAC, it will still discard the highest frequencies.

Comment Re:USB keyboards connected to a Hub (Score 1) 325

Mod parent up, it is cheap per-student (one computer, one large screen), it can sort-of be used without power (you can type, you just can't tell if you are typing correctly), and it could do double duty as a video player. No doubt a Linux guy here on Slashdot can suggest some way to make 20 keyboards input into a single application?

Comment Re:This is going to get ugly (Score 1) 228

I think I understand their approach to national security too: it helps increase the power of the federal government, it pleases the lobbyists that want the government to purchase billions of dollars worth of equipment from a particular manufacturer, and it distracts people from more important issues that the politicians would rather not discuss. When looking for motives, ask: who benefits? I wish people were not so foolish as to think that terrorist attacks can be stopped via airport security. Obviously the terrorists know that airport security exists, so they will attack trains, malls, concerts or busses instead. I also wish people could get it through their heads that terrorist attacks are too rare to worry about. And that the best medicine is prevention (don't breed terrorists through foolish foreign policy).

Comment There are much better ways to spend money (Score 3, Interesting) 228

If a simple pat-down "induced PTSD and sexual abuse trauma", it is more likely to suggest a problem with the passenger rather than the TSA. Even so, America really can't afford billions of dollars in unnecessary equipment and personnel just to provide security theatre, especially since this particular theatre is not the slightest bit entertaining when it happens to you.

And when you can get away with ignoring a court order, isn't that a symptom of a larger problem?

Comment Re:Just block all ads and don't worry about it (Score 1) 716

You may be right, at least when it comes to the kind of companies that already squeeze your wallet today.

The reason I really want an easy micropayments system is for the sake of the little guys, the independents, individuals and small businesses, who can't easily convince people to put their credit-card details into their little-known website for a 99-cent payment or donation, and can barely afford the infrastructure to handle logins, payments, etc. And being under the thumb of Paypal isn't ideal.

You don't have to give your money to those price-gougers (assuming no telecom monopoly in your area) and double-dippers who offer high prices and advertising at the same time. Just like I have Netflix instead of cable. Vote with your feet.

Comment Re:Just block all ads and don't worry about it (Score 1) 716

I would certainly not advocate automatic micropayments, except if the user explicitly whitelists a page (even then, payments should only be possible in response to user clicks, not auto-refreshes).

The point I wanted to make is that micropayments could be a feasible and fair alternative to advertising, if done right, even something that could fund higher-quality content than advertising can fund, and it's unfortunate that no such system exists. Maybe it's because there are a lot of details to work out, such as how to keep transaction costs far below one cent, but maybe the big boys in the financial industry just don't see profit potential in transactions of less than a penny.

If you're opposed to paying a cent or less per page, you could still go to the many websites that would continue providing service for free.

Besides, micropayments don't have to block access to page content. A page could show its content and still request a one-click 5-cent tip (the one-click, don't-leave-the-page nature of it is the key to convince more people to give tips). The way I envision it, the micropayment button would be part of the web browser, outside the page content, where it is impossible to trick a user into clicking a hidden pay button, or to claim that a different amount will be paid than will actually be paid. The feedback about payments having occurred would also be part of the web browser, making it impossible to hide the fact that there has been a transaction.

I presume at the level of 1-cent transactions, it might be too costly to deal with chargebacks/refunds, so clarity of the user interface would be very important.

But, another way micropayments could work would be that rather than being actual payments, they "buffer up" so that actual money only transfers in minimum amounts of 25 cents or so, an amount large enough to cover the costs of managing refund requests and interfacing with traditional financial systems. In that case, you could essentially visit 24 one-cent pages of a web site "for free" with a real transaction occurring after 25 pages or more. A micropayment standard, then, could just be a cheap buffering system that exists to minimize the large transaction costs of traditional financial systems.

The fine details, such as who would provide the buffering functionality (it can't be the web site itself or the web browser itself, since neither is guaranteed trustworthy) is something I leave to the security/crypto/trust theorists.

Comment Re:Just block all ads and don't worry about it (Score 2) 716

What we really need is a micropayment system that makes it feasible for consumers to spend one cent per page or less, to avoid advertising without "subscribing" to a website, without the inconvenience of getting out their credit card, without having to share any private information with websites, without age restrictions (did you have a credit card at 13?). A system in which websites do not have to implement complicated paywall, billing, or log-in infrastructure, do not have to subject themselves to capricious decisions by Paypal, etc.

Until we have such a system, advertising will have to be the main source of revenue in general.

Ideas anyone?

Comment Re:Choose, denialists (Score 2) 422

A hot summer does not prove AGW, nor does a cold winter disprove it. In fact, any number of hot summers does not prove AGW; at most they only prove that warming is occurring.

To prove that the Global Warming is Anthropomorphic requires a lot of additional evidence, which has been gathered. There is now a strong concensus among scientists that "man-made" is the only explanation that fits.

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