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Comment Did anyone think they did? (Score 1) 32

I don't suspect that anyone ever thought that they did. Hey, my wired keyboard can be snooped on from up to a million feet above, with nothing more than a child's telescope. Good thing I'm not a target, because there's also a window nearby. Can you imagine typing on a laptop on a park bench? Martians with telescopes could see my slashdot password!

Or, they could have better things to do.

Comment Re:"most secure" (Score 4, Insightful) 77

Most secure if you also ignore Chen's frequent attacks on Apple for not just handing data over to the US government... which, when you think about it, rather suggests that Blackberry's products are not really all that secure at all.

I'd get worked up, but the reality is that no one really gives a flying fuck anymore about Blackberry.

Comment Re:Who is Kurzweil? Why should I care? (Score 1) 202

I think life is probably fairly common. Intelligent life very likely much less so. Even on Earth, intelligence is a solution to the problem of survival used by only a small fraction of organisms, and even among the organisms that use intelligence as a solution, that intelligence doesn't have to be at the level exhibited by a rather small number of tool-using animals.

But it's going to be a long time before we figure out whether intelligence is rare or not. I don't think SETI is the answer, since incidental transmissions (like TV and radio) only propagate out a few light years before they become indistinguishable from ordinary background radio sources. No, I actually think we'll ultimately identify other civilizations through advancements in optical and radio telescopes which will betray tell-tale signatures like pollution in the atmospheres of Earth-like exoplanets. That's still many years away, but eventually we're going to build large scale space-based interferometer array that will be sensitive enough to image continents and oceans on exoplanets.

Comment Re:Slashvertisements (Score 1) 310

There seems at the moment about a 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 chance of Trump actually being elected. While he's showing better performance than expected in some states, it still seems that Hillary has the advantage. But there's a helluva lot of time until November, and who knows, maybe Trump will finally start acting like someone who wants to be President, as opposed to someone who wants to mount the most expensive comedy routine in history.

Comment Re:Who is Kurzweil? Why should I care? (Score 1) 202

I'm particularly troubled by these comparisons of DNA to source code. First of all, any programmer that would create code as sloppy and filled with junk sections would probably be canned. While the analogy works in simple terms, the way DNA and RNA encode and then transcribe that back into proteins is far far more complex than how a computer runs code. In some ways, DNA is far superior, because it tends to be a lot more fault tolerant, but in other ways it is much less efficient and tends to be much more error prone (which is a good thing, those transcription errors are one of the major ways in which life evolves).

Ultimately the analogy fails because cells are not computers. They do not function like computers. DNA could almost be more compared to something like a printing press, except that on occasion letters get inserted into the process, sometimes even entire sequences, and on other occasions letters go missing, not to mention the odd occasion where another press's sequence of letters get transferred.

It is a useful analogy for introducing certain concepts surrounding cellular activities and protein production, but it remains an analogy only at that basic level, and fails on the details.

Comment Re:Who is Kurzweil? Why should I care? (Score 1) 202

It doesn't keep me up. Even if we are cosmic accidents (and I happen to believe we are, though I suspect life, mainly unintelligent, is widespread throughout the universe). There's no "why" to the fact we are here, beyond explaining the biochemical origins of life and the peculiarities of hominoid evolution that lead to the rise of genus Homo. We are here, and that's what counts, and to my mind, the fact that we are the end result of a series of many probable and equally improbable events makes human life incredibly precious. Without some big sky god who can do it all again any time it wants to, it means if we wipe ourselves out, we may be wiping out something that is rather rare in the universe.

Comment Re: Read some Engels (Score 1, Insightful) 504

Marx and Engels big mistake was in not realizing that despite the abuse heaped upon them, the powers that be at that time recognized at the very least that the notion of class struggle as a driver of history had at least some merits. Marx fully expected a series of revolutions in the latter half of the 19th century, and in some cases it almost came true, but then suddenly you see several nations, even the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for goodness sake, enacting liberal constitutions. In Britain, in particular, within 20 years of the Communist Manifesto's release, the Reform Act of 1867 greatly expanded the voting franchise, enfranchising a large number of working class members. This inoculated a good deal of Europe against any kind of Socialist Revolution.

What went really wrong for Marx's economic and political theories was that first Communist states were fundamentally agrarian states; Russia and China. These, even by Marx's own theories, were not yet at a point of economic evolution that they should become Communist, and in fact, the Communist rulers of these states, to keep with Marxist ideas of evolution, had to introduce vast industrial programs, almost trying to create a Bourgeois middle class just so they could fulfill the checkboxes on Communist revolution. The industrialized states that became Communist were pretty much the states that the Soviet Union forced into its sphere after the Second World War, and who had initially gained their industrial capacity through fundamentally capitalist means.

No one has ever actually seen a Communist revolution the way Marx foresaw such a revolution happening, mainly because, as I say above, the Western nations, whether intentionally or by accident, liberalized sufficiently that the working classes could join political parties, or form new ones (like the Labour Party in Britain). I like to imagine that Disraeli, crafty fox that he was, was at least partially cognizant of the potential for a revolution if Westminster didn't let at least some of the lower classes in, and it wasn't all about just taking the piss out of Gladstone.

Comment Re:Read some Engels (Score 3, Insightful) 504

You are aware that the last three or so generations, at least in the West, are overall the richest human beings that have ever lived. Yes, some are a lot richer than others, but the mean still is so much greater than the past that it's pretty stunning. Only the most impoverished go without food, and even the relatively poor have what can only be described as luxuries.

That's not to say any of it is perfect, or that there aren't people with boatloads of money that really should have that money. There are issues surrounding tax shelters (legal or illegal), corporate influence on politics, and many other issues, but to imagine those just go away because you produce some new economic system is absurd. The one thing Communism did teach the world is that there is always a way for people to get rich and use their wealth to influence the system. Changing the rules just means the greedy and powerful find some new way to game the system, or, if you get rid of the wealthy, some new group rises to the challenge and supplants them.

So I'm all for a fairer society, but we've seen enough "utopian" systems to realize that there is no such thing as Utopia, and trying to bring up the lower classes by bringing down the upper classes never ends up the way you thought it would.

As The Who so aptly put it, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..."

Comment Re: Oh boy (Score 2) 380

Well, unless of course, the actual citizen happens to be a child of Mexican immigrants, and happens to be the judge in a lawsuit where some of his victims, er, students, are suing him for bilking them out of money.

And as he will soon discover, if he manages to become President, for all this talk of how bad illegal Mexican immigrants are, the agriculture industry of the border states would collapse without them.

Comment Re:Oh boy (Score 4, Insightful) 380

You understand that in the normal course of action about the only thing a VP does is break tie votes in the Senate and, on the very rare occasion, when the President has to be put under for a root canal, temporarily becomes Command in Chief. Other than that, the only purpose of a VP is during an election, to try to ingratiate a President with demographics that might otherwise be fence-sitting. Picking someone with some social conservative views undercuts Trump, a man who though he may ape them from time to time, isn't really a social conservative at all.

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