Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



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Submission + - And you think you're having a bad day. (theatlantic.com)

ColdWetDog writes: The Atlantic has an interesting article on how societies have decreased economic equality -

The Only Thing, Historically, That's Curbed Inequality: Catastrophe Plagues, revolutions, massive wars, collapsed states—these are what reliably reduce economic disparities. Calls to make America great again hark back to a time when income inequality receded even as the economy boomed and the middle class expanded. Yet it is all too easy to forget just how deeply this newfound equality was rooted in the cataclysm of the world wars. The pressures of total war became a uniquely powerful catalyst of equalizing reform, spurring unionization, extensions of voting rights, and the creation of the welfare state. During and after wartime, aggressive government intervention in the private sector and disruptions to capital holdings wiped out upper-class wealth and funneled resources to workers; even in countries that escaped physical devastation and crippling inflation, marginal tax rates surged upward. Concentrated for the most part between 1914 and 1945, this “Great Compression” (as economists call it) of inequality took several more decades to fully run its course across the developed world until the 1970s and 1980s, when it stalled and began to go into reverse.

Yep, the intro is a bit of a swipe at Trump. But this should get the preppers and paranoids in the group all wound up. Grab your foil! Run for the hills!

Submission + - If it's not Mars, it's boring. (recode.net)

ColdWetDog writes: Elon Musk apparently is frustrated about earthbound traffic. Before he gets to Mars, he's come up with an idea to improve the slow pace of transportation in a somewhat more prosaic manner than the Hyperloop.

Instead of tubes in the sky, he wants tunnels underground. The name of the company — The Boring Company.

He says he's really gonna do this. Tubes or tunnels? Which one will investors choose?

Submission + - Another North Korea Oops. (yahoo.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Somebody managed to misconfigure the North Korean namserver and open the entire North Korean Internet (all 28 sites) to the world.

Brief report here.

Reddit page here.

Puts your own worst-day mistake into some perspective. You hopefully don't have a boss that will put you in front of an antiaircraft gun when you displease him.

Submission + - How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name (theverge.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Codesign has an article by two early Apple designers on how the company has lost its way, and quite frankly, lost its marbles when it comes to user interface design. In the search for minimalist, clean design it has forgotten time honored UI principles and made it harder for people to use their products. As someone who has followed computer UI since the command line and who has used various Apple products for a number of years, their concerns really hit home.

Of course, Apple isn't the only company out there who makes UI mistakes. And it is notable that TFA has totally annoying, unstoppable GIFs that do nothing to improve understanding. User Interfaces are hard, but it would be nice to have every body take a few steps back from the precipice.

Submission + - Massachussets extends religious exception to Pastafarian. Colanders for the win (northwestgeorgianews.com)

ColdWetDog writes: A Massachusetts agency is letting a woman who belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wear a colander on her head in her driver's license photo after she cited her religious beliefs.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles says policy does not permit head coverings or hats on license photos, but exceptions are made for religious reasons.

From Kim Davis to colanders. You gotta love this country.

Submission + - Drug abuse is a big drain on the US economy. (cdc.gov)

ColdWetDog writes: The Centers For Disease Control has released a report that details the cost of alcohol abuse in this country.

Excessive drinking cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 per drink, a significant increase from $223.5 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006. Most of these costs were due to reduced workplace productivity, crime, and the cost of treating people for health problems caused by excessive drinking.

An interesting counterpoint to the 'costs' of illegal drugs. What this really says is that from the standpoint of public health (and your particular mileage may vary), humans are drug addled bags of protoplasm. If it's not one drug, it's likely to be another. I suppose this is basically the cost of doing business with humans. If only reptiles had managed opposable thumbs.

Submission + - You need a flamethrower (cnet.com)

ColdWetDog writes: You've always wanted one, of course. Zombies, the occasional alien infestation. The neighbor's smelly roses. You just need to be prepared for things. You can get freeze dried food, AR15's, enough ammo to start a small police action (at least here in the USA, YMMV), but it has been difficult to get a modern, portable flamethrower until now.

CNET has an brief explanation on what is now available for your inner demon.

Submission + - Space X - Going where no one has gone before (planetary.org)

ColdWetDog writes: This Friday, SpaceX will attempt what no agency or company has done before: land a used rocket stage on a floating ocean platform. The effort will be made during the private spaceflight company's fifth paid cargo run to the International Space Station. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 is scheduled for 1:22 p.m. EST (18:22 UTC).

Submission + - Mars Rover finds evidence of Taco Bell? (bbc.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Most methane on earth has a biological origin — microbes, cows, burritos. It has been long observed that there is a very low level of methane production on Mars. It's specific origin is unclear. Certainly one answer would be some sort of biologic process. The Mars Rover, Curiosity has been sampling methane levels on a regular basis and has noted several small spikes.

A BBC article discusses the data further and offers some clues and further areas of research. Unfortunately it is a bit premature to postulate that the Martian Counsel can order takeout.

Submission + - Code Humor (theblaze.com)

ColdWetDog writes: A coder with the nic Zen Albatross has found a bit of humor in the sad state of affairs of Google's ongoing attempts to keep the NSA out of everyone's electronic panties. Reported in the Blaze, the bit of humor embedded in the comment goes back to a rather un funny slide of how the three letter agency compromised transit between Google servers.

That's one point for open code.

Submission + - Photo Geek 2013 Contest Results (lensrentals.com)

ColdWetDog writes: If you are at all interested in the mechanics and physics of photography, you can do much worse than spend a few minutes perusing the weird and often amazing pictures of the Photo Geek 2013 contest. If you're still not sated, you can read some more of Roger Cicala's LensRentals blog and learn more than you ever thought possible or necessary about testing and evaluating modern cameras and lenses.

Submission + - How to warm up your Christmas - "Cold Fusion" for sale (extremetech.com) 2

ColdWetDog writes: Be the first on your block (or country for that matter). Amaze your friends and confound the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The first cold fusion power plant is now available to pre-order. The E-Cat 1MW Plant, which comes in a standard shipping container, can produce one megawatt of thermal energy, using low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) — a process, often known as cold fusion, that fuses nickel and hydrogen into copper, producing energy 100,000 times more efficiently than combustion. It sounds like E-Cat is now taking orders for delivery in early 2014, priced fairly reasonably at $1.5 million. Has cold fusion — the answer to all our energy needs — finally made its way to market?

Submission + - Obamacare going to the dogs. (foxnews.com)

ColdWetDog writes: "Fort Collins, [Colorado], resident Shane Smith told a local Fox News Affiliate that he received a letter last week informing his dog,Baxter, that a health insurance account had been opened for the pup through Connect for Health Colorado. Smith told the station he had to sign up for coverage through the state exchange because his health insurance plan was cancelled under ObamaCare. He isn’t sure how Baxter wound up getting enrolled instead, but he said he did give Baxter’s name as a security question as part of the registration process." First the NSA backs all all your data. Now the Feds insure your security questions. What's not to like?

Submission + - Nothing new under the sun (theatlantic.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Recent revelations surrounding the documents leaked by Edward Snowden and Chelsea / Bradley Manning have painted the US intelligence services and the US military in a less than flattering light. A recent short article on the Atlantic website points out that secrecy, duplicity and a narrow, near paranoid view of the world existed in the minds of the US military and intelligence communities during the Kennedy administration.

From the start of his presidency, Kennedy feared that the Pentagon brass would overreact to Soviet provocations and drive the country into a disastrous nuclear conflict. The Soviets might have been pleased—or understandably frightened—to know that Kennedy distrusted America’s military establishment almost as much as they did.

TFA puts a bit of historical context into the recent discussions we have been having. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". (George Santayana).

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