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Comment Re:Looking bad for Hillary now. (Score 1) 146

It's not nearly as simple as that. True, people can always be found to "demand" that the USA "do something". But then, people can always be found to demand that any government "do something". Often that "something" turns out to be profitable for the people who do the demanding. But whether the loud demands are at all representative of what people in general want... that's a different question.

The USA is supposed to fund UN peacekeeping missions - actually, a very inexpensive commitment compared to fighting wars - because all the 193 member nations do so. Likewise with other routine UN functions. Please note that the US government was instrumental and took a leadership role in setting up the UN, which is why its headquarters is in New York. Many of us would prefer it to be in a different, preferably small and non-aligned nation.

The anti-pirate patrols are much appreciated and have done a lot of good. However, there is a strong argument that local nations should indeed perform that role instead; that way they would be more inclined to address the root causes of piracy.

I don't believe anyone ever demanded that the USA become the "World Police", and your rude comment about Europeans is wholly unjustified. Indeed, a study of history suggests that it was far more the choice of Americans and their government to occupy Europe (and Japan) than that of the locals. Of course, as of 1945 the USA was the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation, having remained neutral for the first two years and three months of WW2 in Europe. Thus, when WW2 ended, the USA was the only major nation whose own territory had not been invaded or bombed. Germany was shattered and decimated. Italy was little better. The USSR had lost one in seven of all its people - soldiers and civilians - over 25 million dead. Britain had not suffered so many deaths, but was utterly bankrupt due to the cost of fighting both world wars. (The UK finished repaying its war debts to the USA in 2006).

Under the circumstances, I find the expression "lazy f'kers in Europe" extremely offensive and unfair.

Comment Re:Looking bad for Hillary now. (Score 3, Interesting) 146

Er, "Americans turning inward..."? According to The Washington Post two weeks ago, “While Americans savored the last moments of summer this Labor Day weekend, the U.S. military was busy overseas as warplanes conducted strikes in six countries in a flurry of attacks". https://www.washingtonpost.com...

Many people around the world devoutly wish that Americans would "turn inward" and occupy themselves with their own business, instead of killing foreigners for their own good.

Comment Re:What's wrong with this? (Score 3, Informative) 146

It's been said over and over, but apparently some people still don't understand.

Crimea has been an integral part of Russia since before the USA existed as a nation. On at least two occasions, Russians and Soviets sacrificed literally hundreds of thousands of lives to protect Crimea and to win it back after it was conquered by an enemy. More Russian blood has been spilled for Crimea than American blood in the Civil War - and by that, I mean more than 700,000 dead plus many more injured.

Crimea was generously "given" to the Ukrainian SSR by Khrushchev - who, oddly enough, was himself from Ukraine - in an impulsive act which was probably illegal under Soviet law. Then, when the USSR dissolved itself, Ukraine proclaimed itself an independent nation in 1991. Please understand clearly that this was the very first time in the whole of history that a Ukrainian nation had existed. The name "Ukraine", itself, means "borderland" - that is, the borderland of Russia. For many centuries, long before the USA existed, Russians spoke about "Great Russia" (which became modern Russia, based on Moscow), "White Russia" (which is still known as Belarus today), and "Little Russia" (the Eastern part of Ukraine). When Khrushchev transferred Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR he cannot have had the slightest inkling that one day this would involve Russia losing Crimea, which after all was mainly populated by ethnic Russians and Russian speakers.

After the violent, illegal coup d'etat which overthrew the legally elected Ukrainian government in 2014 - of which George Friedman, founder and CEO of Stratfor (https://www.stratfor.com/), said: “It really was the most blatant coup in history" - the Kiev regime instigated extreme violence against Russian-speaking Ukrainians. The population of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to become part of Russia again, and the Russian government agreed.

Putin did NOT "annexe" Crimea. He allowed the people of Crimea to become part of Russia again, after a relatively brief period in which they were subjected to a freshly-created foreign power by a series of administrative freak events.

Comment Think about it (Score 3, Insightful) 278

We got to the top of the food chain by being the grand champions of the solar system at killing shit. We're so good at killing things that we pass laws against slaughtering animals to keep us from wiping them out. The Dodo Bird and Carrier Pigeon are examples of species we've exterminated and we nearly killed off a bunch of others.

It makes sense to guess that the dominant species on other worlds got to the top of the food chain because they're also the most skillful killers. It's wishful thinking to suppose that a more technically advanced civilization would be more peaceful and tolerant. Just like it was wishful thinking for the Aztecs to give the Spanish gold and hope they'd go away.

He's right. We should be careful about broadcasting our presence around the 'verse.

Comment It's a political issue, not a technical one (Score 1) 532

marmot7 displays a charming naivery and desire to help everyone who needs help. Excellent qualities! However, this is expressed rather the wrong way round: "Is it that there's no profit to be made in solving the most important problems?"

On the contrary, it is that there is so much profit to be made precisely by NOT solving the most important problems. Poverty, inequality, discrimination, war, pollution... all those evils are directly caused by the extraction of profit from the world and its people by certain elites who are already very rich and powerful indeed. It comes as a shock when one first understands that the rich, as a rule, grow steadily richer by taking money from the poor. After all, the poor are the most easily exploited. They are the ones who have to buy necessities in small batches rather than saving money by buying wholesale. (They can't afford fridges or freezers, and have very little storage space). They are the ones who have to use expensive coin-fed meters for power, rather than saving money by paying regularly by electronic means. They are the ones who are so desperately busy, trying to survive from each day to the next, that they have no leisure or disposable income left with which to find out ways of living more economically. They are the ones, overwhelmingly, who play lotteries - that "tax on stupidity" (or rather "tax on ignorance and desperation").

Just as a fridge makes its interior colder by pumping heat out into the external world, the rich contrive to become steadily richer by exporting poverty to those who are already poor. To solve the most important problems, as marmot7 suggests, is not a technical challenge: it would be a political challenge, and would require a revolution.

Comment "Lady Chatterley's Lover" redivivus (Score 2) 194

This proposal reminds me of the 1960 obscenity trial of Penguin Books for the publication of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawrence. The chief prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, caused some merriment but also revealed his deep prejudices by asking if it were the kind of book "you would wish your wife or servants to read". (If they have time on their hands, readers are encouraged to compile a full list of the ways in which that remark was patronising and bigoted).

If this proposal is taken up by the UK government, it will means that - more than fifty years after the "Lady Chatterley" trial, in an era that prides itself on its freedom of expression - government officials will be asking themselves, in the privacy of their offices, "Is this the kind of Web site you would wish your wife or servants to read?" As it is so very much easier to be safe than sorry, no doubt the answer will very often be, "Actually, no, old man, it isn't" - and off will go another batch of "bad addresses" to the Black List, never ever again to be seen.

Comment Re:Allow opt-out (Score 1) 194

If they do this, I hope that they will allow an opt-out. Anything else would feel like an act of censorship, even if that may not be the intent.

Hahahahahahahaha! Of course that's the intent. And of course they won't allow an opt-out. Even if they did, to ask for it would be more or less to hang a big sign round your neck saying, "TERRORIST!"

Comment The Great Firewall of Britain! (Score 5, Insightful) 194

"[W]hat better way of providing automated defences at scale than by the major private providers effectively blocking their customers from coming into contact with known malware and bad addresses?"

What better way of allowing the UK government to censor what British people can see and hear on the Internet, without the huge majority of them having any idea that their Internet access is being censored?

And for those who have suggested this is no big deal, just wait. This is a case of "First they came for the communists", with a vengeance. Quite apart from the fact that this is exactly what the Chinese government has been doing with its "Great Firewall of China" - and getting it in the neck for alleged tyranny, totalitarianism and censorship.

Of course, how this policy would work out in practice does depend very much on who decides what constitutes "known malware and bad addresses [sic]". Previous draconian laws passed by the British Parliament were, we were solemnly promised, to be used only in the most serious of terrorist cases. A couple of years later, the powers were in fact being used by town councils to spy on what people put into their rubbish, how they kept their gardens, and other such personal and utterly non-vital matters.

If a law is passed establishing a "Great Firewall of Britain", we can be quite sure that within a couple of years literally thousands of government employees - from the Prime Minister to town hall clerks - will be contributing "bad addresses" to the cumulative DNS blacklist. Just like the current Homeland Security watch lists in the USA, thousands of items will be added every month, and nothing will ever be removed.

Indeed, people living in Britain may well find that, one day in the not-too-distant future, they are no longer able to read or contribute to Slashdot. After all, just think of all the contentious issues and worrying statements that are to be found on its pages! Some government functionary - or, perhaps more likely, an instance of that classic responsibility-diffusing mechanism, a committee - will take the view that it would perhaps be for the best if this rather dubious Web site were no longer to be accessible from the UK.

Comment You can't be okay with this (Score 0, Troll) 271

Whatever Wikileaks was in the past, you can't be okay with them acting as a front for Russian espionage. Does anyone think for a second that the Russians are going to turn over emails they acquire illegally without editing the content? They're okay with hacking government and political party servers but they're going to be honest about what they turn over? Not a chance.

This isn't just hackers run amok. If it's state sponsored this is bordering on an act of war and Wikileaks is party to it.

Comment Motivation? (Score 2) 172

When you see something like this your first reaction is bound to be, "Well, stupid ignorant politicians proposing foolish laws that wouldn't work - yet again". And yet... politicians aren't always stupid and ignorant. Many of them have a certain low rat-like cunning, especially when it comes to getting and keeping office, and currying favour with the rich and powerful who can help them. So, just as a hypothesis, what more might be behind a proposal like this?

The obvious starting point is that, rather than pay a tax to content owners in return for doing the service of indexing and making known what they have to offer, search engine companies would simply stop indexing all such material. That would be really bad, huh? Or would it... from a certain point of view. Suppose you own the New York Times or The Guardian or some other boring obnoxious conventional media outlet. Your view of the Web is probably pretty jaundiced. It's full of people who find your stories through search engines and then read them for free - unless you put up a paywall, in which case they just stop coming altogether. Moreover, increasingly they don't even want your lousy stories because they can find so much better and more up-to-date material on the Web, from a thousand independent and dynamic sources. In fact, in the long run your company is probably facing bankruptcy sooner or later because it can't compete with what's available (mostly free) online. Not good. Wouldn't it be marvellous if someone could put a stop to all this "Web" nonsense and take us all back to the good ol' days when you just had to pay for your newspaper and your cable TV and take whatever they gave you? Wouldn't it?

The search engines could just stop indexing such sites, but over time - at least, so the politicians might think - that would shrink the search engines' usefulness so much that they might go right out of business. Oh boo-hoo, the conventional media owners would grin, rubbing their hands happily. What a terrible shame.

And we, who rely so much on the Web, would find it that much less rich and useful. We really should be thinking about how to react to politicians, responding to their rich buddies, who want to shut down the free Web and replace it with a monitored, controlled pay-per-view thing much along the lines of what Bill Gates had in mind before the Web came along and spoiled his day.

Comment Re:It's silly to think that... (Score 2) 24

Throughout the later 1990s I gave talks about software security and predicted exactly this. The vast majority of "hackers" (i.e. attackers) in those days were just doing it for fun, to prove themselves, to impress their friends, or whatever. I always ended my talks by warning the audience that this "Garden of Eden" period wouldn't last. Given the large numbers of serious, dedicated criminals out there - not to mention terrorists and national aggressors - it would only be a matter of time before the techniques that had already been demonstrated without the infliction of much harm would be adopted by REAL attackers. And then the suffering would commence, on an industrial scale. Like industrial civilization itself, the Internet is just one enormous fragile target.

The amazing thing is that it's taken so long.

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