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Submission + - Google interface becoming evil ( 1

ansak writes: "Google has adopted a Mystery Meat interface with the disappearance, on the main search page, of the banner giving what to search for. Now it's hidden behind that big Google icon in the top left corner. This downgrade and the chaos being caused in the new look GMail interface is the beginning of the end for Google as it begins to foist things on users like Facebook does. A tablet-friendly appearance should be served up on tablets only."

Comment Missed an election then, did you? (Score 1) 390

So... you didn't vote in the off-year? (1990) At least it didn't matter as much as the last off-year did.

The biggest mistake any sub-set of American voters have made in the last five years, that I can see, was sitting out the 2010 election. I'm convinced half the problems that have ensued would not have happened if only the young and enthusiastic had realized that "the President proposes, Congress disposes". You can't afford to sit any of them out.

Oh, and by the way, in our country it's called "being enumerated" or being "on the voter's list" and our Election Commission is apolitical. Really apolitical -- recruited for competence. Not politically polarized with a referee like in Arizona (what a success that's been!). Responsible to the Crown, not to the Legislature. You wanna see at least "mostly fair" district boundaries? Feast your eyes on these. Even the scandal of "Gracie's Finger" is far behind us.


Comment Re:china copys us stuff and pass it off as there o (Score 2) 373

inviolet wrote:

"... While these things have temporary effects on the movements of money, in the long run we benefit from having other people making discoveries alongside us, rather than continuing to scrabble in rice paddies."

I think you're somewhat right but I get the feeling that this model is wrong when one side is nobbling currency rates and locally incentivising the newly arrived industries to the point where, for instance, nearly all Vitamin C worldwide is produced in the country that gave us melanine-laced milk and automotive-exhaust-dried tea. Is that smart for any of us? The only safeguard is that QA for export-bound products are stricter because other countries' regulators are more transparent, therefore more accountable and reliable. But market forces only work well when there are no well-established bullies (especially not 147 colluding ones) or even determined alternative rule-set writers.

And lest anyone think I'm fear-mongering, what about solar panels? The markets are only fair when the rules are all becoming more stringent on all players regardless of source and buyer and where the measures used for exchange are equitable. My hope is that greater public wealth will lead to greater openness and accountability, but it hasn't always panned out very well.

Still, I also look forward to the day when some kind of abundance is available to everyone, when we all get much better at use and re-use as opposed to use and using up. Science and technology can get us there if the greed of the few doesn't prevent it. I think our vision as a race tends not to be big enough (worrying about our own rice bowls, all too often, all too appropriately) and we're way too short-sighted and too prone to getting into shouting matches over individual issues in the larger overall programs available to our imagination.


Comment Re:Supporting Ron Paul feels cool, is stupid (Score 1) 1797

Should I answer a non-cow? okay. one point.

You are committing a category error between Gilles Duceppe (a man bent on splitting Canada up) and Barack Obama, together with so-called "big government socialists" (who have no intention of splitting the US up).

Okay, that's not an answer so much as a dismissal. Your thinking is simple in the fashion typical of those who are only reading certain varieties of history and economics. I recommend you balance Newt and the Austrians with some Walter Russell Mead, for starters -- and then check out Hernando de Soto's "The Mystery of Capital". Our systems in all their frailness are precious and ought to be preserved, not burned down -- nor should their looting by plutocrats be suffered to continue.

I do know what malinvestments are and I have seen enough bubbles and busts to suffice for five lifetimes but Ron Paul's ideas remind me more clearly of those of William Roper's views on giving the Devil the protection of Law in the movie "A Man For All Seasons". Ordinary folk won't find shelter from the resulting storms if you allow Ron Paul's ilk too much latitude.


Comment Supporting Ron Paul feels cool, is stupid (Score 4, Insightful) 1797

Disclaimer: I am a Canadian, so I do not have a dog in this race; except we are your nearest neighbours (nearer than México in two minor ways only: longer border, no local outcries for a fence) so if you systematically self-destruct, it'll be bad for us, too.

Support for Ron Paul by the young and sometimes geeky has intrigued me for some time. Is it a result of reading Ayn Rand? Is it because his ideas seem so much more sensible than so many others? Is it because he does not appear beholden to any lobbyists? Is it primarily because he wants to end drug Prohibition? Possibly all of the above.

But it's also confused me because a number of the things Ron Paul wants to do away with are things that help the young find their first footholds -- things like student loans (or even grants). When I read this headline, I thought for just a second that perhaps Dr. Paul wants to throw open the universities for all, call a full education a civil right that you get to take advantage of based on merit. But I dismissed that thought before I saw the rest of the post, and I was right to do so. My response: his analysis may have some truth in it but it's so simple as to be suspect, in my view. On balance, like much of what Ron Paul says, it's too simple to be right.

Whoever thinks Ron Paul is cool, whatever lobby groups he is not beholden to, make no mistake: the über-rich and powerful wish his ideas well because their adoption would entrench and deepen the growing class divisions in America and put an end to the American dream as anything but that: a wistful dream of what expectations used to be.

Something is rotten in the way the US is going these days. For instance, in my lifetime, before 2008, I had never heard a leading politician in the US say of their president from the opposing party that they wanted him to fail. Whether you agree with Mr. Obama or not, that attitude on the part of any member of your government is pernicious. I'll stop there because the list of things going wrong is so long (most of them decades in the making) as to make this too-long post ridiculously so.

But Ron Paul is not the answer to those problems: his ideas (and incidentally those of the Tea Party) are only going to help the rich get richer and inherit the meek (and the not so meek). Do yourselves a favour, folks, and elect leaders that remember what they learned in Kindergarten (without forgetting all the things they learned since) and value their neighbours over hard lines -- internal neighbours, of course! I wouldn't advocate that you would elect the people I, your Canadian neighbour, want you to elect. I'm just confident that if, overall, you voted in line with your interests (and that may take a lot of thinking to figure out who's going to serve those best) and do well, then you won't become neighbours that we have to fear from across that longest unarmed border in the world.

be good to each other, folks...ank

Comment Which frontier? (Score 1) 376

Whether space is or is not eventually "The Place", one of Cringely's latest columns on the "next frontier" is worth reading. He's been going on about the need for a new frontier to provide a direction in which mankind expand our expectations without entirely being guilty of exuberant over-optimism. The prequel article is also worth reading.

To quote from somewhere in the middle (and I almost feel I should shout SPOILER ALERT! first):

What should that new frontier be? It almost doesn't matter as long as it is big enough to capture the fancy of hundreds of millions of people. Your ideas are just as good or better than mine. But since I have a couple favorites I'll throw them on the table. I think our next frontier should be a combination of additive manufacturing and autonomous flight.

The rest of the article does give one something to think about, if only to wonder what he's been smoking lately.


Comment Another article (Score 2) 96

Okay, so IEEE has the bulk of the article behind a pay wall but the abstract here makes it plain that we're talking about superconduction at 77 K, close to the boiling point of Nitrogen but as someone pointed out, Sapphire is the substrate on which another high-temperature superconductor is laid out and the resulting material only superconducts at microwave frequencies.

But any advance in this area is a good thing, if you ask me. We don't have enough copper to serve everyone's needs and its Ohm's Law losses are too much to be acceptable in the future.


Comment Mod parent up - new format borked on Android 2.1 (Score 1) 2254

The default web browser on my HTC Hero (running 2.1-update 1 -- thank you Telus for keeping me there) cannot handle the new format and appears to hang. I'll have to hunt up a link that will take me back to an older version of the layout.

I have to say, that while the overall layout may appear nicer, neater, whatever, I still think the lighter-weight older versions served my needs adequately without taking advantage of all the additional bandwidth either in the pipe or in my boxen: in short, leaner and meaner is preferable. It wasn't busted as far as this simpleton was concerned.


Comment Re:erm, all of the above (Score 1) 312

All of the above, unconditionally, unequivocally. If governments have a legitimate role to play it is to protect their citizens from bullies and rackets of all kinds.

Unfortunately, governments (and this is especially notable outside the west, see Churchill's praising-with-faint-damns of democracy) are often the bullies and rackets that oppress their people.

Wikileaks is not a replacement source of such protection, but at least it can be a means by which the stories are told instead of being buried. Ask the relatives of Pinochet's victims: things would have been better, if only marginally, if they could just have KNOWN what had become of their loved ones.



Submission + - MSoft-backed Group Delay Patent Purchase (

ansak writes: After wondering what was the good of it all a few weeks ago, the latest over at groklaw points out that the purchase of Novell's 882 patents to a Microsoft-backed consortium is on hold, at least briefly. One commenter suggests an Ubuntu update that makes any user of Ubuntu an automatic member of OIN before the deadline (which will now go beyond the 19th of January, apparently), thus protecting at least those users from patent troubles.

Comment Re:It would go nuclear (Score 1) 608

About 30 minutes after the first artillery shells landed in Seoul, a nice mushroom cloud would appear over Pyongyang.

This only avoids the larger conflagration if the nukes fly in from China after a clear note to the permanent members of the security council, Japan, Korea, followed by a press conference at the UN.

I'm having an "Obi-Wan senses the destruction of Alderaan" moment just contemplating the possibility.



Submission + - Poll question suggestion

ansak writes: Julian Assange, also known as:

* Osama bin Data
* 21st century Dreyfus
* John Brown's Data
* neo-Rosa Diplomatic Parks
* Private Ryan Cable
* Cowboy Neal's long lost twin brother

I know. It's a silly poll. You guys can probably make it better.

Submission + - Assange detention sparks total cyberwar (

An anonymous reader writes: Anonymous, the group leading the denial-of-service attacks on those who arrayed themselves against detained Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange has itself come under fire from US "patriots", said Panda Labs. Assange's detention in London on Swedish allegations of sexual molestation unleashed total cyberwar between factions opposed to and supporting his publication of confidential and classified diplomatic despatches. Almost every organisation that lined up against Assange, Wikileaks and its supporters has fallen under heavy, coordinated distributed denial-of-service attacks as have those who launched them. From web hosts to US senators, no one is safe from the botnet armies.

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