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Submission + - Utahns launch mission to give Earth's moon a proper name (deseretnews.com)

Mr.Intel writes: The Earth's moon is named after its astronomical classification, unlike other planets' moons, which have names. Tawni Henderson of Fruit Heights, Utah wants to change that and has setup a website which has received more than 1,500 suggested names from 30 countries, totaling 4,100 responses.

“Other moons in the solar system have names like Ganymede, Titan, Bianca and Belinda, and they’re the same names in every language. The most beautiful moon in the solar system, our moon — which is currently named after its classification — also deserves one unique name," she said.

Submission + - How Wikipedia manages mental illness and suicide threats among its volunteers (backchannel.com)

mirandakatz writes: Wikipedia has some 68,000 active editors, and as with any given population, some of those people experience mental illnesses or disorders. The online encyclopedia is adamant that "Wikipedia is not therapy!", a statement that some find alienating, and despite that disclaimer, the site has had to come up with ways to respond when a volunteer is in crisis. In this longform narrative, we hear the stories of volunteers who've undergone crises either directly or tangentially related to Wikipedia, and we learn how the website handles—or attempts to handle—those situations.

Comment Re:One of many famous Fermi Paradox answers (Score 5, Interesting) 250

I am afraid that I have never been persuaded by "civilisation will destroy itself" arguments, because (a) they have a poor definition of "destroy" and (b) options for further evolution don't seem to be well considered.

Expanding briefly if I may: Most cataclysmic events postulated don't seem cataclysmic enough. Suppose for example there was a huge nuclear war. Might that and the ensuing nuclear winter push humanity back to the dark ages? Well, very possibly it might, but we know from practical experience that getting from the dark ages to now takes about 1500 years or so, probably rather less if you have the smoking remains of the previous civilisation to get clues from. So, we get another go at being an advanced civilisation and presumably can repeat this depressing episode over and over again (see Azimov's excellent 1941 short story Nightfall).

For these cataclysmic events to actually make mankind extinct the population has to be reduced below a practical reproductive minimum (which clearly depends at least in part on how spread out the survivors are). We could imagine perhaps some sort of synthetic plague to which no-one is immune and which survives in the environment to such an extent that even small highly isolated populations are eventually infected. It sounds a bit unlikely to me, but again we know from experience that given a few million years our ape cousins will evolve to replace us. Of course, all primates could also be vulnerable to the disease, in which case we just have to wait even longer for an evolutionary replacement.

Conclusion: Short of managing to destroy all multicellular life forms, planets which evolve advanced life will have advanced civilisations from then on with possible gaps.

Submission + - SPAM: Student embeds subway card in her fingernails

Mr.Intel writes: Design student Lucie Davis made these high tech nails for a university project. The Tube's Oyster Card comes with an RFID chip inside, which she embedded. ‘I took the RFID chip from an Oyster card and embedded it within a full set of acrylic nails to give commuters the ability to pay for their journeys with a single tap/touch,’ she told WAH Nails. ‘You can still top them up with money too. Now you’ll never have to worry about misplacing your card again!’ As long as you don’t lose the one with the chip in somewhere on the Circle Line, of course.
Link to Original Source

Comment Pointless hype (Score 5, Insightful) 343

Yes, well maybe the aircraft's signature was too low for the threat system to engage them, but if you want to increase the signature of the stealthy aircraft there are lots of easy ways, such as:

1) Lower the undercarriage.

2) Many low signature aircraft have corner reflectors which either bolt on or are hidden behind doors and which greatly increase the radar returns. They are used to hide the true signature when flying somewhere where someone may try to measure your radar cross section. I have no idea if the F35 has such a feature, but I would be surprised if it doesn't.

3) Fit external stores. I don't know if the F35 supports this option.

So, a story about something that isn't a real problem and instead suggests a badly planned training exercise re-cast as an opportunity to say how great their aircraft are.

Comment At the end of the day, nobody cares! (Score 1) 195

I am someone who does actually read the TOS for websites. I rarely like what I see and as a result, Slashdot is one of the very sites to which I subscribe.

However, the plain fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people don't read them and (here is the vital fact) almost always they don't subsequently feel that they have been disadvantaged as a result. For some strange reason, criminals and the generally dishonest are not setting up web sites, getting users to subscribe and then legally fleecing them. I am not suggesting silly things like First Born, but simple strategies like firstly including a clause saying you can unilaterally change the terms later (practically everyone does this) and then when you have a good few users change the rules to impose huge retrospective fees. Would this not work? I presume many people would challenge the bills in court and I have no idea what the courts would rule. Anyone know any case law?

It is clear to me that governments aren't interested either. Here in the UK, when you go into a shop you might often see a sign describing such things as their returns policy. At the bottom it will invariably say "Your statutory rights are not affected". This is because here consumers can't contract out of their basic consumer rights (e.g. if the product is faulty you are entitled to your money back and don't have to accept a voucher instead). There are some similar protections for buying things online (distance selling regulations) but none so far as I know that govern the contracts on web sites.

I strongly suspect that most smaller organisations don't even read their own TOS and simply copy them from someone else. I have often felt that with the vast majority of websites for which one might need to sign up being basically the same, it would be a good idea for the government to create three or four boilerplate TOSs to cover say 90% of cases. Web sites could then simply have a sign saying "Our web site is governed by UK Gov TOS 3" (I am sure a catchier title could be invented). Consumers wouldn't need to read the TOS because they were all the same and had been carefully checked, but web site owners would also benefit by knowing that their TOS had been well written (at someone else's expense) and would therefore be more likely to stand up in court than one they copied from another similar site and then got their nephew doing law at high school to tweak.

Comment Perfect? No. Better? No idea! (Score 1) 609

So far as I can see, these articles express the view that a society based entirely on objective decision making wouldn't be perfect and therefore shouldn't be considered. Well, Duh! Surely it is completely obvious that it wouldn't be perfect, not least because there are large areas of the human condition not amenable to the scientific approach.

But, surely the question is not whether such a society would be perfect, but whether it would be better - on average - than other arrangements currently on offer. I have no idea what the answer to that question is, but may I submit that if one is to postulate such a society then that is precisely the question which needs to be asked.

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