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Comment Re:MS Nutty aquisitions (Score 1) 90

Notch just likes Java. It's not pure Java, though, it uses native libraries to access OpenGL and sound.

The fact that it's Java is why it runs not only on PC and Mac, but on Linux as well. The mods you can get for it are all Java, too, so they're cross-platform compatible. (Actually, there's a few that are at least partly written in Scala.)

Comment Re:Apple seems stuck in profit trap (Score 4, Interesting) 293

My opinion of Apple is that it's become kind of like the Soviet/Russian space program: both of them produce some really impressive hardware, but you can still see the dead hand of their chief innovator (Steve Jobs for Apple, Sergei Korolev for the Russians) in all of it, and you can also see that they don't have another innovator of that same caliber to carry them forward. Chuq's describing what appears to be a symptom of that, in that they've lost the person who's capable of thinking strategically instead of just focusing on the business numbers.

Comment Re:Friday (Score 1) 227

Well, there are kind of four parts to the overall Callahan's saga, grouped by their main setting:
  • The original Callahan's Place, Suffolk County, NY: Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Time Travelers Strictly Cash, Callahan's Secret
  • Lady Sally's House, Brooklyn, NY: Callahan's Lady, Lady Slings the Booze
  • Mary's Place, Suffolk County, NY: The Callahan Touch, Callahan's Legacy
  • The Place, Key West, FL: Callahan's Key, Callahan's Con

The first two parts are more or less intertwined in time; Lady Sally's House ended up closing a year after the events of Lady Slings the Booze but before the events of Callahan's Secret. The third and fourth parts basically follow on in sequence from the events of the first part.

Comment Re:Who writes these blurbs? (Score 1) 227

Actually, that's right. In Stranger, World War III is set in time between the original Envoy expedition, which brought Mike's parents to Mars in the first place, and the Champion expedition, where they found Mike and brought him back. It's a "blink-you-miss" note that comes right near the start of the second chapter, something like "there would have been another manned expedition right away if World War III hadn't intervened."

Comment Re:Nope. Telegraph operators got there first. (Score 1) 29

If you're interested in this, there's an excellent book called The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers , by Tom Standage, that talks about the telegraph and the culture that sprung up around it. Many things we recognize from modern online culture are present: e-commerce, the use of encryption, online chat slang, and even online romance. Steampunk fans should especially appreciate it!

Comment In high school (Score 2) 320

I was a senior in high school that day. My civics class was interrupted by the principal coming on the PA system to tell everyone that Challenger had exploded and crashed into the ocean. We were all rather stunned by that news.

After that class was our morning break period. I immediately went to my next class, which was physics. In the back of the classroom, many of my classmates were huddled around a portable radio, listening to the news. No one said much. (I didn't actually see the video footage of the explosion until I got home that day.)

Yet the gods do not give lightly of the powers they have made,
And with
Challenger and seven, once again the price is paid,
Though a nation watched her falling, yet a world could only cry,
As they passed from us to glory, riding fire in the sky!

- From "Fire In The Sky," written by Jordin Kare

Comment Blatant ripoffs (Score 4, Insightful) 285

So, the health care industry, not content with sucking down one dollar in every five in the U.S. economy, wants to grab a few extra billion?

When you take your car in to be serviced, the law requires that you be given a binding estimate of the costs involved before any work is done, and the mechanic is forbidden to exceed that estimate (within a small margin, like 10%) without getting your permission first. Mechanics who violate that law go to jail. Why do we not have those same kinds of consumer protections in the health care industry?

Pharmaceutical companies routinely charge people in the U.S. more for their products than in other countries, such that a drug which costs $100,000 for a full course of treatment in the U.S. costs only $5,000 in India, or scorpion antivenom that is billed at $40,000 a vial in the U.S. is available for $100 a vial in Mexico. Yet, if you were to go outside the country, buy those drugs, and bring them back to the U.S., you would go to prison, thanks to a law bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, a blatant infringement on the Doctrine of First Sale (which is that, once you buy something, it is yours to do with as you wish). The Supreme Court recently ruled (Kirtsaeng vs. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 568 U.S. ___ (2013), Docket No. 11-697) that this practice was impermissible in the textbook industry. Why, then, should it be permissible in the pharmaceutical industry?

If we were to get rid of all the special exemptions that the health care industry has under law, and force it to abide by the existing law of the land (such as the Sherman, Clayton, and Robinson-Patman Acts), including prison time for health care and insurance executives where applicable, the cost of health care would drop by 80% or more. Most people could then pay cash for their health care needs for about the same as they pay in a deductible today...meaning "health insurance" would no longer be necessary (except for "catastropic care" policies for unforeseen circumstances, which would cost about the same as your car insurance). Some form of Medicare and Medicaid would still be required for the truly less fortunate, but would cost a lot less. Obamacare would no longer be needed and could be trivially repealed. The economy would experience a massive boost because health care would no longer be draining it, and every government budget deficit problem, Federal, state, and local, would be instantly solved. (Leading to secondary effects such as stopping the erosion of your purchasing power because the government keeps "printing money" to fund its deficit spending.)

Comment "Custom OS" (Score 5, Informative) 277

Some sources claim that Roddenberry's computers ran a "custom OS." However, in those days, CP/M was often customized for different brands of computers, which used different disk formats and layouts (for whatever reason). Roddenberry's machine may have used a particularly obscure layout.

They do mention that the disks had about a 160 Kb capacity, which was fairly standard for Shugart 5-1/4" floppy drives of the time.

Comment I wish BOTH sides could lose here (Score 1) 818

If the school and the cops had actually believed or even suspected the clock was dangerous, they would have evacuated the school and called in the bomb squad. The fact that they did not indicates that they knew there was no danger...but, if that's the case, why did they come down so hard on the kid? I put that down to insane "zero tolerance" ( = "zero intelligence") policies. And, in doing so, they played right into the hands of the kid and his Muslim activist father, who I suspect deliberately baited the school to provoke such a reaction so they could claim "Islamophobia." The two of them shouldn't be allowed to profit from that.

This is one of those lawsuits where you wish both sides could lose.

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