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Comment What to do? Don't worry about it (Score 0) 364

Personally, I really do not care if the government is listening to my phone calls. I seriously doubt that they are, but I have nothing to hide. Frankly my phone calls are just not all that exciting to outside parties. The only "danger" from someone listening to them is that they might get bored into a slumber.

I love how some people think that they are personally so important that the government has nothing better to do than pay attention to everything that they do. A few years ago during the "We're going to have a flu pandemic!" scare that was recommending special flu vaccinations for children, a guy I know who works for the US government (he is a low ranking employee perhaps somewhat equivalent to a computer operator) was convinced that Uncle Sam was literally going to send armed troops to his house to force him to agree to getting a flu shot. I love how logic never figures into this. If the NSA has about 40,000 employees as Wikipedia claims and all of them are forced to monitor the entire US population, that is about 7875 people per NSA employee to monitor. Yes, I'm sure that the NSA can keep up with that.

Comment Re:Why the hell are people accepting this? (Score 1) 622

Someone tell me why the threat of terrorism gets so much attention.

Easy. For the most part handguns and traffic accidents as single events kill low numbers of people. If 2 passenger cars crash into each other and everybody dies, only so many people can fit into each vehicle. Bullets are not infinite so the number of people killed in such attacks is limited. Terrorism has the ability to kill large numbers of people indiscriminately at one time. Believe me, if Al Queda had the ability to kill millions at one time, they would not hesitate to do so.

Comment Re:So, an action only in one country is a crime .. (Score 2) 304

Why the fuck do countries have laws that allow them to prosecute people who are did their criminal activity in another jurisdiction?

Many EU countries have such laws. Your post is mostly anti-US, but many EU countries assert legal authority over actions that never happened in their countries. I hate to resort to Godwin's Law but it does provide a great example. For instance, in the USA it is quite legal to own and sell Nazi memorabilia. Such violates French law. In fact, if it were up to the French they would prevent everybody in the world from doing this. They've sued Ebay in the past and other companies to force them to not show US listings of such to French citizens. I want to be sure I'm clear here - they don't want French citizens to see US listings intended only for US residents on such transactions. In the past Spain has prosecuted human rights violations that didn't occur in Spanish territory and didn't involve Spanish citizens. These are but a few cases.

The actions in this case are not as clear cut as some might like to think. The perp was engaged in software piracy or violations of copyright. The US government's official position is that software and media piracy is destroying the US economy and putting people out of work. It's an irrational argument, but it's what they say. So crimes like these are viewed as something like direct economic warfare against the USA, hence the overreaction in the penalty, which is meant to serve as a deterrent. Since the perp apparently sold his wares to US citizens, this provided the justification to go after him.

Just as a point of interest, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan is here) have special visa rules that don't apply to most US territories and Chinese citizens with a machine readable passport who fill out certain forms in advance are allowed visa free travel to the Northern Mariana Islands (they cannot travel to Guam without a visa though). Since the perp didn't need a visa to go to Saipan, that made it really easy to trick him into going there.

Comment Re:it's too wide (Score 1) 323

I've read articles about how some places in Africa wish the Chinese would either stop giving them anything or at least make it of better quality because the "new" roads they built them have already broken down and there's no local money to fix them. Let us know if people are still happy if those stadiums, bridges and highways collapse or break, killing unwary people. And anybody who expects that China does this stuff for "free" out of good will is just delusional. China exacts a price for it's "help". Maybe it's just telling the government (I'm looking at you South Africa) to deny a visa to the "evil splitist" Dali Lama. Maybe it's just that the Chinese military just happened to be in the area and they might, oh I don't know, stop people from getting access to certain sites. That's already happening in the disputed waters of Southeast Asia. Or ask India about what their "buddy" next door a few weeks ago in casually occupying a disputed piece of territory that was previously under Indian control, all the time calling for peace and restraint. It's a miracle that nobody got killed in that one. Lots of countries are China's bitches for sure, but that teat has poisoned milk. One day they'll find out.

Comment Re:Units in the summary (Score 1) 307

Learn to guesstimate big numbers. It will help reduce your apparent anxiety when confronted with American imperial units of measurement.

I totally agree. I'm American and having done some international travel and having worked for an international company, I have some friends around the world who I stay in touch with from time to time and I've just learned how to do rough conversions in my head from imperial units to metric so I can tell them things like "I live about 40 km from my office" instead of saying "I live 25 miles from my office" and having them wonder whether that is a lot or not. Temperature conversions are not too difficult either. By the way, the source article appears to come from the USA, so the summary was just made on what the submitter read and I don't blame him/her for not bothering to convert. Had it been in metric units, the submitter probably would have just reported that.

Comment Re:Can't fault China on this one (Score 2) 209

Heh... actually, that wouldn't be a bad official response. Puts the Chinese in the position of either accepting responsibility for hacking, or admitting that their state firewall is actually pretty porous.

Not really. They can do any of the following, including perhaps more than one of these.
1) The Beavis and Butthead defense - "Those were some other kids, sir" meaning non-Chinese people leaving a trail pointing back to China to deflect blame to there.
2) The Bart Simpson defense (denial) - "I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can't prove anything."
3) "Evil Chinese hackers did do it and yes, they got around our precious firewall. But we won't admit it to our own citizens. That's for external knowledge only."
4) "The Chinese military did it, but unfortunately they operate without our oversight." I guarantee you that no government person in the US or China wants that to be true. The Chinese military is a bit of a loose canon and the fear on the US side is that the civilian government in China may be not be as much in control of them as they would like. The Chinese government probably fears that they don't control them as much as they are supposed to either. The problem is that according to the Chinese constitution, the PLA (People's Liberation Army) swears allegiance not to China or the government but to the Chinese Communist Party. That's a really important distinction. The government is a subset of the CCP so in theory it could be possible that the government's interests could run counter to the CCP's interests if the CCP was under the control of some non-government whack job.

Comment Re:Is MS *trying* to commit suicide? (Score 3, Informative) 578

Remember, Microsoft has always been reactionary rather than inventive. They wait to see where the market is going and then jump in, pretending to be the guys who invented. This worked well for years. Also, they have so much money that they can (unfortunately) afford to fail big and shrug it off. Vista was a disaster for sure, but it's just a historical footnote now. When you don't have to be right and have the money to just restart from the ground floor, you can gamble. So Windows 8 is the result of Microsoft incorrectly reading the marketplace, specifically in believing that nobody wants to buy PCs and that 100% of the world wants tablets and almost nobody on earth will ever buy or use a true PC again. Never in the past have they been held accountable and lost market share for being disastrously wrong, so I can't really fault them for expecting that to continue. I don't remember his name, but one tech writer wrote recently that Microsoft will continue to misread the market place and try to extract more and more revenue from the segments where in the past they had a stranglehold but are actually dying now (ie. Windows and Office). The Xbox thing is them being reactionary ("Kids use Tivo and we need to get us some of that money!") and trying to hold onto cash by making it unfriendly to play used games on. I don't claim to be a gamer or understand or know that market, so we'll see what happens. But their Windows and Office strategy is flawed because the push for more money out of Office is already driving people to cheaper alternatives and making Windows unfriendly to the businesses who need it to work reasonably well on true PCs is going to be a failure too.

Comment Re:I was born in the wrong era... (Score -1, Troll) 163

People got paid to play chess even in your day. What's the difference?

Where do I begin with this kind of ignorance?

The number of people who actually make a true living playing chess (and they still get paid today to do so) is really small. Probably not all that much different than the number of "gamers" who live by playing games. But I see a difference between getting paid to be good at a mentally challenging game and being good at playing a game where you "blow stuff up". Not sold on the "difference" there, bucko? Then tell me, exactly how many millions of dollars has IBM or a similar company invested to design a computer that can beat the best human players at what 4Kings plays? Yeah, I thought so.

Comment Whale meat = McRib (Score 1) 311

There's a lot of truth to SmallFurryCreature's post, but I'd also say that to some extent in Japan whale meat is like McRib is in the USA. This is what I mean by the comparison. Most Americans who I know refuse to eat McRib (it's a heavily processed pork sandwich that McDonald's sells in the USA at random times - most of the time it's unavailable) and consider it to be bad even by McDonald's low standards. I will never forget a co-worker saying "That's disgusting!" when someone else in the office talked about how much they liked to eat it. The people who like McRib are few, but they are hard core addicts. There are websites about the sandwich and they update them when someone reports a restaurant that has it available again. Some people have been known to drive for hundreds of miles to get one. Most people in Japan hate whale meat, but there are some hard core weirdos who love it. They make a lot of noise in Japan. Whales basically get hunted because these weirdos are large enough in number, despite being a minority in the country, that the market responds to their demand by making it available.

Comment I disagree (Score 1) 72

nano-tech and germ warfare become sophisticated enough that we will have millions of little nanobots our bloodstream which will provide the coverage necessary to deal with anything which our immune system isn't able to. This of course will be designed in such a way that you will have to 're-stock' your nanobots at certain determined intervals, because Big Pharma isn't going to design any permanent solution, or at least, will not be marketing any permanent solution at first, for we all know that the money is made through the sales of medications and prescriptions, not in curing any diseases.

This the kind of paranoia that is along the lines of "Cars that could get 100 miles to a gallon of water were available in the 1970s, but the Big Three bought them up and destroyed the information". I will tell you why I don't agree with you. It seems to me as a general observer that drug patents are not subject to the kind of "minor change = new patent" nonsense that is destroying the software industry. If this kind of thing was common, believe me, drugs like minoxidil would be covered under some kind of new patent instead of being in the public domain. Saying that Big Pharma doesn't want to cure diseases sounds plausible, but patents release the information on how drugs are created. So suppose Big Pharma A finds a cure for, say, pancreatic cancer, but they also find a drug that doesn't cure it, but keeps people alive, perhaps related to the cure. The other drug companies will see their patent on the treatment and one may figure out the cure and patent that, putting a complete end to the treatment drug. No, there's too much risk in knowing a better medicine and trying to keep it secret. If company A figured it out, it's only a matter of time before company B does too. If Big Pharma A has a great medicine, they can get established on selling it so that even when generics come out, they may still be able to retain sales (at a cheaper price of course) by having their name associated with the original medicine. Besides, it's great for business to say "We're the guys who cured X for the world, so now try our new medicine to cure Y".

Comment Background explanations for Europeans & others (Score 1) 276

"The Show" = Big Leagues = Major League Baseball, the highest professional baseball league.

Note that there is no question at all that MLB is the best professional baseball league. This is not like soccer/football where fans night argue that the EPL or Bundesliga or La Liga or some other league is the best. MLB to every other baseball league is like the EPL to MLS or worse.

The fact that Broshuis (his name is misspelled on the original post) was asked to cheat is a good indicator that on talent alone he wasn't good enough for MLB. I found his minor league record and at the highest level of minor league baseball, AAA, (consider this to be something like playing soccer/football in Football League Championship in England) he barely played and was bad. He played quite a bit in AA, which is the league below AAA, and had mixed results. I've seen worse for sure, but nothing in his stats was so great, even at his best, that it looked like he was going to be a future pitcher in MLB. He barely got a chance in AAA (3 games) which to me strongly suggests that his organization gave up on him being a serious candidate for MLB and gave him a very quick test to see if he might be better than they thought, and he wasn't.

Comment Re:Italian Prosecutor? (Score 0) 559

Italian Prosecutor. Enough said.

I'd probably put this way - Italy != justice

Among Italy's proud moments related to the justice system, and keep in mind that this is a sampling and not a complete list...

1) Sending armed Italian troops or police (not sure which) who at gunpoint threatened the lives of American soldiers and demanded that the US military turn over the Achile Lauro hijackers who had been forced by US naval pilots to land at a US base in Sicily. Keep in mind that these were the actions of a supposed "ally" of the USA. They threatened to kill US soldiers if they did not surrender the hijackers to them.
2) Once they got the hijackers and convicted them, in the pansy way only Italy can do "justice", they immediately felt sorry for the kidnappers and began doing things like giving them furlough. One of the kidnappers took advantage of it and ran away. To the shock of the world, Italy actually tracked him down and sent him back to jail for a little while.
3) Italy routinely interferes in US law and refuses to extradite US citizens who flee to Italy until the US promises to take the death penalty off the table. Again, this is a supposed "friend" of the USA.
4) There was a terrorist attack in the UK that failed some years ago and one or two of the suspects fled to Italy and demanded to be tried there. Gee, anybody want to guess why?
5) Amanda Knox - First she's completely and utterly guilty. Never seen more conclusive proof of a crime. Then she's completely innocent and a victim. Now they want to try her again. They had two attempts and one of them was completely wrong. Anybody want to be that they'll get it right this time? I don't.
6) The USA refuses to let American soldiers face Italian justice, even when they did something that results in the loss of life of Italian citizens. Gee, I wonder why that might be?
7) Italy felt sorry for the guy who tried to kill the pope and set him free after John Paul II died. The only surprise was that they didn't free him while the pope was still alive.

Comment Re:English... (Score 2) 230

I suppose someday the US might become a Spanish speaking nation, and that's totally fine. But we're far from that reality and currently Asian nations are economically dominant and on the rise. Of course, it's not feasible to keep switching languages every time some new nation rises in influence, which is why we've got English as the standard and why everyone continues to learn that.

One of the really great things going for Spanish is that to native speakers of a Western European language like English, Spanish is very easy to learn. Spelling is phonetic. Grammar is essentially simple with the possible exception of reflexive verbs, but those are easy enough to learn. That's in no way a criticism of Spanish to call it "easy to learn". In fact, I'd argue that it's a great strength. One of the reasons that English became a world language is that while there are complicated aspects (strange spelling, incredible number of verb tenses), on the whole it's a fairly simple language (ie. plurals are usually simple, there's no grammatical gender).

The Asian languages are pretty strange for speakers of European languages. The various Chinese "dialects" (that's how they see them rather than as different languages) are tonal, which creates its own set of problems for speakers who don't speak tonal languages. Chinese grammar is for the most part very simple, although measure words can be difficult for some people and the strange "topic-comment" word order is quite a bit different from English in particular. Japanese and Korean mercifully don't have tones, but they instead have rather complicated grammars, with Japanese being the worse. They also use "topic-comment" word order. My experience is that grammar in all of the English speaking countries is abysmally bad in the educational systems and I just don't know how realistic it is to expect kids who don't even know or understand the grammar of their native language to successfully grasp languages that require complicated grammar rules. Pick your poison - tones or grammar. I don't know anything about Hindi, but as it's an old language I'd expect that very likely it's got quite complicated grammar too. Australian English is rather infamous for its incomprehensible slang (Strine) so I wish them a lot of luck. I'm not going to be surprised at all if this program fails. We can't even graduate Americans with a correct understanding of English (you'd be shocked at how many students seriously believe that "prolly" is a real word) and based on what I'm seeing in posts on the internet in various forums, I don't think the Aussies are doing any better.

Comment Re:How about cutting Notes? (Score 2) 276

Fortunately, my current job does not use Notes. My previous job did. All I can say about Notes is that my previous job used it because it was simple enough for out technology challenged managers (we had a ton of them) to be able to use it. It wasn't very good and it took a surprisingly large support staff to run it, but the managers could do things with it and that ended up being why it was used.

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