Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:Provide this at the state level (Score 1) 232

Here's my homework, teacher: Article 1, section 8: Congress may lay and collect taxes for the "common defense" or "general welfare" of the United States.

This does not equate to a power to spend tax money on (or regulate) anything "for the 'common defense' or 'general welfare'". If Congress's enumerated powers included getting involved in education, this clause would grant them the power to raise money toward that end. It does not grant that power by itself. If it did, the remainder of the section (and the entire concept of enumerated powers) would be rendered meaningless, which was obviously not the authors' or signers' intent.

Don't worry, this is a very common mistake. Your reading comprehension will improve with practice. In the meantime, perhaps you would care to read what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had to say on the subject.

Comment Re:Not Fed (Score 1) 232

Financially, Congress has the power to tax, borrow, pay debt and provide for the common defense and the general welfare.

You skipped some critical words and punctuation:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; ...

Notice the comma after "Excises"—these are two separate lists, not a single broad power. The power described here is simply "To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises". That's it: to collect money, not to spend it. The purpose of that power is described by the next phrase, "to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States". That is merely clarifying language, tacked on to explain why the money is being collected and not intended to grant any additional powers. In other words, the nature of this power is merely to fund the enumerated powers given by the remainder of the section. If this sentence alone were intended to authorize absolutely anything which might be argued to "provide for the common Defense and general Welfare" then the remainder of the section would be superfluous. That (false) interpretation does away with the entire concept of enumerated powers. The authors and signers obviously did not intend for the enumeration of powers granted to Congress to be superfluous, or Section 8 would have ended immediately after the words "general Welfare".

Don't just take my word for it, though. Consider instead the writings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on the subject.

Comment Re:It was a joke to begin with (Score 1) 232

When the time comes to start specializing in something (i.e. choosing a major in college), they will have a good idea of what subjects they enjoy and have an aptitude for. That's where they'll pick up the math and analytical skills and other foundational stuff.

Math and analytical skills are foundational skills for far more than just computer programming, and ought to be taught long before the student enters college. It is undeniably true that not every student needs to be trained as a large-system software developer, but everyone should learn at least the most basic fundamentals of computer design, both practical and theoretical, and more importantly the problem-solving skills such as abstract thinking, divide-and-conquer, proofs, etc. which are necessary to understand how complex systems function, including—but not limited to—software. Introductory computer coding is one context in which these skills can be taught, so long as it is recognized as a means to an end and not the end itself.

Comment Re:And we have Google (Score 1) 204

You can't have it both ways, either we have a forgetful society ... or you let things be remembered forever and applied to your "reputation".

The so-called "right to be forgotten" has exactly zero relevance here. For one, it never prevented anyone from assembling a database of social interactions with "scores" based on individual behavior. It only prohibited the details of that behavior from being searchable by the general public. This new system China is implementing does not need to be public or searchable to be effective and would be fully compatible with the nonsensical "right to be forgotten" laws instituted in the EU. Moreover, the ability to search historical records for once-public information about an individual's past does not in any way imply the degree of official monitoring and collection of private data about individuals that China's plan calls for, much less mandate that this information be used to control access to goods and services in service to the rulers' political and social agenda.

When a person with extensive debt and a history of missing payments is denied a loan based on their credit score, that is simply common sense. If more information allows that risk to be assessed more precisely, so much the better—so long as the information is made available voluntarily, and deliberately hiding relevant data to obtain credit which would not have been extended had the lender known about the risk is tantamount to fraud (i.e. theft). On the other hand, when an otherwise responsible, low-risk individual is denied a loan merely because an intrusive government deems them "potentially subversive" or "not a team player" we have a serious problem, especially when the government exercises significant direct influence over the economy.

TL;DR: The problem is not the absence of "forgetfulness" or the existence of a "reputation score", it's the influence of the government over the economy and the application of political force guided by that information. Without that information the government's meddling would be perhaps a bit less efficient, but no less wrong.

Comment Re:Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! (Score 1) 300

I haven't seen a software project of any complexity come in this close.

Even your average "Hello, World" app running on a modern PC is probably more complex, if you count all the software involved in getting from a few lines of trite source code to pixels on a screen: compilers, program loaders, standard libraries, system calls, filesystems, pseudo-terminals, terminal emulators, IPC, rendering libraries, graphics drivers, window managers, memory management, scheduling, etc. We've just become very good at automating the management of all that complexity behind the scenes, to the point that it's routinely taken for granted and treated almost like magic. Physical designs are trivial by comparison—but the complexity they do have is much harder to manage compared to digital constructs.

Comment Re:It's past time. (Score 1) 1425

The electoral college was specifically designed so the person who won the popular vote could still lose the election.

When the electoral college was designed there was no popular vote for the presidency. The electors were expected to meet, debate, and ultimately select the president and vice president as free agents representing the interests of their respective states—very much as if Congress directly appointed the president and vice president. The role falls to the EC rather than Congress itself mainly to ensure that the electors are all recent appointments, whereas a member of Congress may have been elected up to four years prior. The idea that an elector would be expected to vote for predetermined presidential and vice presidential candidates based on the outcome of a state-wide or nation-wide election (with or without the binding agreements and legal penalties for noncompliance employed by some states) is a comparatively recent invention.

For myself, I don't really care whether the president is selected by the EC or a popular vote. There are pros and cons to both systems. What I would like to see, however, is the option for any candidate to be disqualified through a 20-40% minority veto. Anyone who manages to alienate enough of the voters and/or electors to warrant such a veto should not become President. I do not think it unreasonable to expect that the President should at least be deemed marginally acceptable by 60-80% of the citizens he or she will rule over for the next four years. This business of choosing between two bad candidates (and a few minority candidates who certainly won't win, and are apparently on the ballot only to split the vote) is utter nonsense. The lesser evil is no way to select the representative for an entire nation.

Comment Re:Click bait much? (Score 1) 171

Huh? Without the scalper, that someone could have bought the ticket directly from the supplier, at a lower price.

Only given an abundant supply of tickets. More likely, someone else might have bought the tickets who wasn't quite as interested in the show, but decided to go anyway simply because the tickets were cheap. Scalpers prevent this "priority inversion" by buying up underpriced tickets and reselling them at market price, thus ensuring that those with the greatest effective demand for the tickets are able to attend. The only problem with this scenario is one of the venue's own making—by underpricing their tickets they ensure that the difference is payed to the scalpers, when it could have gone to support the venue and the performers instead.

There are arguments both ways, of course; efficient allocation of resources is not always the highest priority for those putting on the show. For example, performers might wish to keep ticket prices low so that their less wealthy fans have a chance to attend, thus raising less money through ticket sales and rationing the tickets by lottery (or by willingness to show up early and stand in line for hours... thus punishing fans with less free time) rather than ability and willingness to pay. I have no problem with that goal, but rather than an unjust and intrusive legal prohibition on "scalping" I'd rather see venues tie tickets to specific attendees if they want to control resale. They have every right to only accept tickets with a matching photo ID. It makes no sense to sell generic tickets anyone can use while attempting to limit third-party transactions involving those tickets.

Comment Re:Social problem, not technical (Score 1) 230

The only real solution is the same as for every other tragedy of the commons.

You mean privatize the commons? That's a good idea, except in this case it would be redundant. There is no commons. Every part of the Internet infrastructure is already privately owned. People just don't see it as worthwhile to set strict rules on how their respective portions of the infrastructure are used, which suggests that such rules would not be economical to implement or enforce, i.e. implementing them would be a net loss for society.

Comment Re:The ultimate in postmortem narcissism (Score 1) 386

I don't think it's misleading at all. Practically speaking, we don't know how to freeze entire human bodies—or even individual human organs—without destroying them. We can't even freeze an entire rabbit body without destroying it. We're getting closer, but we're not there yet.

Now if you had a brain the size of a rabbit's, and you didn't mind preserving only the brain and trusting future medical technology to enable brain-transplant into a new body, then you might stand a chance. Otherwise, if your body is to be frozen using current technology, you're depending on future medical innovations to repair the massive cellular damage which will result from the uneven freezing process.

Comment Re:The ultimate in postmortem narcissism (Score 1) 386

The part you quoted is the theory behind cryonics, and that's all well and good as far as it goes. However, we're not there yet. We don't have the means to distribute the cryoprotectant solution evenly enough throughout the body, or to lower the body's temperature quickly and evenly enough, to preserve all the internal organs in situ. The closest we've come to that is the preservation of individual organs outside the body, as stated later in the article:

And just in February of 2016, there was a cryonics breakthrough when for the first time, scientists vitrified a rabbit's brain and showed that once rewarmed, it was in near-perfect condition, "with the cell membranes, synapses, and intracellular structures intact ... [It was] the first time a cryopreservation was provably able to protect everything associated with learning and memory."

According to the article, we've also managed to successfully freeze, thaw, and re-implant a functioning rabbit kidney. This process has not been successfully demonstrated with human organs, which are significantly larger than rabbit organs and consequently more difficult to freeze without damage, much less a whole intact human body.

Comment Re:The ultimate in postmortem narcissism (Score 5, Interesting) 386

Thing I'm wondering is - why don't they freeze her while she's still alive? Even if they find a cure for cancer, that will likely not be something that resurrects the dead.

The current state-of-the-art freezing processes would kill her anyway, so the end result is the same. We don't have the ability to freeze the body without fatally damaging the cells. Anyone with the technology to reverse the massive cellular damage from the cryo would most likely be able to deal with the rest without any trouble. From a legal point of view, freezing someone while still alive would be much more problematic—it would probably be classified as a form of assisted suicide, given our current inability to reverse the process. No one wants to take on that kind of liability for a infinitesimally better chance of successful revival in the distant future.

Comment Re:Custody disputes on Slashdot?? (Score 3) 386

And the ruling is absurd... if one of the parents wanted to make handbags out of her skin, the judge would of ruled against them.

The decision was rightly the teen's, not the parents'. It's her body, after all. Provided the teen can come up with a way to pay for the procedure, that is—and in this case the mother was willing to serve as sponsor. No one else has any legitimate say in the matter.

Comment Re:What about the far-left? (Score 1) 978

At least with Twitter it can be argued that it is a platform for speech and as such the law should reflect Twitters impact on political discourse and outcomes on elections. Just like a town-square you cannot be kicked out for racist speech and yes it doesn't mean you have to listen it.... AT&T was determined critical and cannot limit its service on political ideology so there is legal precedent.

First, that was an awful legal precedent which ought to be overturned, not expanded—a taking of private property for public use without compensation on a massive scale. Second, the situations are nowhere near the same. In the AT&T case they at least had the weak argument that ownership of the physical last-mile infrastructure gave AT&T a form of natural monopoly on communications; Twitter has no such monopoly on online discussion. If the government is that concerned about potential bias on Twitter they are free to host their own functionally-equivalent, politically-neutral site.

The town square is public property, and thus likewise not equivalent. As the square is not private property, your presence there infringes on no one's rights. In contrast, no one has the right to use Twitter's private servers and network services without their permission.

Comment Re:Stealing (Score 1) 149

If you sell limited-edition prints of a painting, and people buy it because having one out of only a hundred has value to them, then someone making counterfeits is decreasing the value even if they don't directly take from the original creator.

Yeah, that's competition for you. One has a right to the property itself, not the market value of the property. So long as this hypothetical competitor doesn't claim that the copies are either originals or authorized reproductions, no fraud has been committed. "Decreasing the value" is not a crime by itself.

Calling this "wire fraud" is ridiculous. EA might have a case for regular fraud, in the sense that they were tricked into issuing the tokens (though that is partly their fault for blindly trusting whatever the client software tells them). It's hard to imagine any damages being associated with that "fraud" unless EA is in the business of selling these tokens for real-world money, which would make them rather hypocritical since that behavior is prohibited to others in their ToS. The buyers have a better claim, since they are out real money for the unearned and likely-to-be-cancelled tokens, but since they were buying from "black market dealers" in the first place they don't have much room to complain.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Be there. Aloha." -- Steve McGarret, _Hawaii Five-Oh_