Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Oregon law: Practicing means working, not sayin (Score 1) 713

Agree with your sentiment, but he could have made his case without trying to support it from a position of authority by using the title "engineer". If he was doing as he claims ("I'm not practicing engineering, I'm just using basic mathematics and physics, Newtonian laws of motion, to make calculations and talk about what I found."), then there was no reason to repeatedly claim the title "engineer" in his extended correspondence with the board.

Oh, whoops, did the flamebait summary leave that little detail out? This wasn't "an email". It was a long and protracted argument with the engineering board about how to do a particular set of calculations to determine yellow light timings, in addition to a publicity campaign on 60 minutes and an attempted lawsuit against the city. So yeah, the board is jerking off with their legal move to get him out of their hair, but he is doing a bit more than writing a blog or publishing academic research.

Comment Re:Er - I'm awake and notice this (Score 2) 248

The easiest way to see price discrimination is to go to the rich side of town and go to the grocery store. Observe the price of milk, hamburger, cheese and gasoline. Now to to the poor side of town, repeat.

Of course what you're implying, that affluent people have more money and therefore will pay more for food resulting in increased prices, is only one factor in the price. There are several others, for example: property values are higher, the store is likely nicer (ex: cleaner, newer, fancier) on the inside, the employees are likely paid more, and there are possibly additional aesthetic regulations that must be followed (number of trees, limits on traffic/parking lots, etc) in affluent neighborhoods. All of these will influence the price of goods just as much as the fact that people are generally more wealthy. I could shop at the WinCo across town instead of my local grocery store, but I don't because the quality of the food usually matches the lower prices in the discount stores.

Comment Re:How short term is short term to this guy? (Score 1) 99

Imagine a guy who was a coal miner. Then the coal mine closed.
So he became an auto assembly line worker. Then was replaced by a GE robot.
So he became a truck driver, because those trucks aren't going to drive themselves.

Good scenario, but let's change it up a little with two alternate paths.

Scenario #1:
    Guy writes CGI backends for websites in Perl. LAMP stacks are invented and this becomes where all of the jobs are.
    So, he learns PHP and MySQL, and works as a contractor building dynamic websites for businesses. But India rapidly trains up its workforce and floods the market with people with these skills.
    Guy tries to find another niche, and learns NodeJS. New trendy language, nobody is familiar with it, so surely there will be jobs for a while.

Scenario #2:
    Guy cuts hits teeth coding websites in raw HTML and Perl for fun. Gets his first job setting up basic help desk systems for the early Web.
    Popularity of dynamic websites is growing, and there are a few competing technologies now (PHP, Perl, Python), but he realizes major work can be done improving performance and user experience. So working at his new company, he contributes to the development of Ajax, to bring asynchronous data interchange to fully Web-based Internet applications.
    This works well, he gains some notoriety, experience, and satisfaction seeing a lot of other people adapting and improving on his original contributions. But he knows the world doesn't sit still, so he starts looking for the next big thing. He decides to start his own company. Soon the infrastructure needs of modern web applications will outgrow back-of-the-closet server rooms. Companies will need access to broadly-distributed, highly-redundant, load-balanced, and highly-available server farms. He thinks he can develop a platform to provide these services to companies, decides to call it "the Cloud".

I think most will agree that Scenario #2 is the better one to be in, but that Scenario #1 is where a lot of people find themselves. The questions then are,
    A) How do we help people transition from a path like Scenario #1 to one more like Scenario #2?
    B) In situations where this transition is inter-generational (which is likely in many cases), how do support the older generation long enough to allow the younger generation to develop the skills, abilities, networks, and opportunities needed before they can take over?

I think the degree to which we are able to answer these questions and start working in those directions will directly influence the amount of pain we experience as we continue moving towards this "smart economy". Hopefully we don't just repeat history and let things get so out of hand that we end up with another round of Communist uprisings around the globe.

Comment Re:Ambiguity? (Score 1) 424

Agreed. I suppose it could also be a coalition of for-profit companies that agree to provide funding through an independent not-for-profit trust of some sort. The key is recognizing a greater benefit to society that is worth investing in, which unfortunately does not seem happen much in today's large commercial companies. My position is that I am fine with avoiding taxes to some extent as long as the money that would have gone to the government is in turn used for investment in public works or services (not for private company investment or cash reserves). In other words, there probably is at least some merit to the idea that public spending could be better orchestrated if it were more autonomous. We try to do this already through tax incentives, but it can probably be done better.

Comment Re:Ambiguity? (Score 1) 424

Well maybe they could - but they never would, there's no visible way to profit from it.

Some do, although it is admittedly a very small minority. See Red Hat, for example. They fund a lot of linux kernel development. They also profit from that same linux kernel development. They just realize that their for-profit services (mostly support) have nothing to gain and a lot to lose by keeping their patches private. I know you said "establish" not "maintain", but the same principle could apply.

Comment Re: Thanks Hillary! (Score 1) 109

The legislation in question, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, was not concerned with "granting free speech to some corporations and not to others", which is the way you are trying to frame it. It was concerned generally with campaign finance reform, and specifically with putting limits on how much and what types of contributions corporations are allowed to make to political campaigns and what must be disclosed when they do so. The part of the legislation that made it vulnerable to the Supreme Court decision was its effort to regulate issue advocacy ads, or so-called "soft money" influences on political campaigns. The legislation had some issues, but it was more or less reasonable: it defined "electioneering communications" as broadcast ads that name a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or caucus or 60 days of a general election, and it prohibited corporations and unions from paying for such ads. That's really it. Fairly narrow in scope, not a blanket ban on free speech or talking about politics or any such thing.

Regulating corporate influence on our political campaigns has a long history. It is not a new idea invented by liberals to suppress conservatives. In addition to the BCRA, there is the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which has been amended several times and regulates contributions to political campaigns, parties, and PACs. It also implements disclosure rules. Before that there were several smaller bills, including the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1910. What I'm trying to say is, the influence of money on the political system has been recognized as a problem for more than 100 years and there have been many efforts by both major parties to regulate it.

Before the Citizens United decision, campaign finance reform was not considered an issue of free speech, and it did not specifically favor one corporation over another. It targeted all corporations. It prevented a specific narrow type of political ad from being distributed in broadcast media channels during specific time frames leading up to major federal elections. It being 2002, the Internet was not a medium of much concern (so anything on the web would have been exempted, including political blogs). The Act in effect only targeted TV and radio. The FEC has a nice summary of the bill posted.

Electioneering Communications

An electioneering communication is any broadcast, cable or satellite communication that fulfills each of the following conditions:

        The communication refers to a clearly identified candidate for federal office;
        The communication is publicly distributed shortly before an election for the office that candidate is seeking; and
        The communication is targeted to the relevant electorate (U.S. House and Senate candidates only).


The regulations at 11 CFR 100.29(c)(1) through (5) exempt certain communications from the definition of "electioneering communication":
A communication that is disseminated through a means other than a broadcast station, radio station, cable television system or satellite system. For example, neither printed media-including newspapers, magazines, bumper stickers, yard signs and billboards-nor communications over the internet, e-mail or the telephone are included;

The Supreme Court decided to overturn all of this, not just with Citizens United, but several other similar decisions as well. The advocates say "hey, free speech is free speech", and the detractors say "hey, this is opening the flood gates to unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns". However you choose to see it, it is not a simple problem with an easy solution.

So to answer your question,

Just in general, if you give the government the power to decide which corporation is and is not in some special category when it comes to free speech, you've ended free speech. Surely you can see that?

Yes, I can see that, but that is not what the BCRA or the Citizens United decision are about. Can you see that?

Comment Re: Thanks Hillary! (Score 1) 109

Citizens United was a specific corporation, but the ruling applies to all corporations. Normal corporations cannot directly contribute to campaigns, that is still prohibited. But they don't need to. They can just independently buy five hours of prime-time TV spots to exercise their free speech....

The electioneering legislation was flawed, and its implementation justly criticized, but one can argue that the principle was sound. Don't allow corporations, which generally have much deeper coffers than individuals, to buy media spots to support particular candidates or parties near an election. Keep in mind that the restriction was also against unions. It has been ruled unconstitutional, which I don't disagree with, but it leaves us in a tough situation. Media spots cost money and corporations have more money to spend (as well as a more vested interest) than individuals or even loosely associated groups of individuals. Why should Tim Cook use his personal wealth to buy media spots to help Apple when he can just get his board to agree to budget a few billion a year to funding political speech to serve its interests. The most influential super PACs have corporate backers. They are not loosely associated Joe Blows like yourself and I or the local PTO.

If you allow newspapers to run political commentary at all, then the very rich can get their message across by simply buying the whole thing.

Another point the court made is that the New York Times is a corporation, and does quite a bit of political speech, as directly permitted by the 1st.

Agreed. However, there is an important distinction to be made between a media company like NYT, CNN, FOX, or CPB that publishes news (you don't want the news to be controlled by the government, so that means it is going to be run by a corporation, whether that be for-profit or non-profit) and a media company like Citizens United that exists solely to influence political opinion. News includes world events, local, national, business, weather, stock market, science, tech, arts, and yes political coverage. One can argue about political bias, and we do, a lot, but coverage of politics in the news is not the same thing as airing a front-page advertisement in support of a particular candidate leading up to an election.

Since you mentioned the NYT, notice that this election cycle they did publish prominent advertisements and official (ie: NYT editorial board) opinion pieces in support of HRC and against DJT. It was the first time ever, and they can do it now because of the Citizens United decision. I can't say I'm particularly thrilled with that development.

Comment sunset mode (Score 1, Funny) 118

Prominent new features of the GNOME 3.24 desktop environment include a Night Light functionality that promises to automatically shift the colors of your display to the warmer end of the spectrum after sunset,

Please tell me you're joking. ....
OMG, you're not joking! Seriously, why is this a thing?

Comment Re: Thanks Hillary! (Score 1) 109

I doubt you can pool enough money to offset Warren Buffet, the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Larry Ellison, Rupert Murdoch, or any number of other like-minded billionaires. Nevermind the most significant finding of Citizens United, which was that the above are not limited to their own personal wealth, but can also make use of an unlimited amount of corporate wealth as well, which is usually far greater. So if you're ever wondering what the billions in offshored tax-haven safe profits are being used for, it's that, and they don't have to disclose it.

Of course prior to Citizens United, limits on campaign finance spending was really just an illusion (super PACs and armies of lawyers can get around pretty much anything), so it has been a problem for a while, just more out in the open now. How do we fix it? Good question to be asking....

Comment Re: Thanks Hillary! (Score 1) 109

Agreed. The Citizens United decision states very plainly what has been obvious to many for a long time. If spending money to support candidates is speech and is protected as such, then those with the most money have the greatest influence. It is a shortcoming of our political system that will be hard to fix.

Globalism is great for multinational corporations.

The thing is, "Globalism" is more than one thing. It has upsides and downsides.The ratio of upsides:downsides depends on how it is implemented and who gets how much of each. The statement "Globalism is great for multinational corporations" is true, but it is an oversimplification. Speaking as a non-multinational corporation, I think globalism has benefited me and many people around me as well, but that doesn't mean it isn't without its downsides. I do think the overwhelming share of monetary benefit has gone to corporate profits, that those corporate profits have not contributed enough back to the betterment of society (tax evasion, corrupt local governments, etc), and as a result a majority of people feel that globalism has left them behind. However, the macroeconomic benefits of globalism are pretty clear, from a lot of very good data. The responsibility of governments and political leaders is to lessen discomforts, ease transitions, and distribute the benefits of globalism so that people do not get left behind. Attempting to stop it, in my opinion, is futile at best and severely detrimental to the economy as a whole at worst.

Comment Re: Thanks Hillary! (Score 2) 109

Ok, fair enough. I do agree that Trump's rhetoric has "emotional resonance". But I don't agree that it actually solves any problems. Do we need to solve problems? Yes. Do we need our politicians to get their heads out of their asses and make efforts to implement real solutions? Yes. Does polarization, manipulation, and scapegoating help us actually solve those problems? No.

Just one small example:
    Do people need access to affordable health coverage? Yes.
    Was the ACA a perfect solution? No. It was a compromise that attempted to adhere to free market principles that we value while also trying to protect the vulnerable and not balloon deficits.
    Did the ACA achieve at least some of its goals? Yes. Coverage was increased. Deficits did not balloon out of control. And the incentives for hospitals to seek ways to improve care and reduce costs were having some promising early results.
    Did the ACA have problems? Yes. The individual market was not stable, due to a variety of reasons. There was a gap in subsidy eligibility that caused some people to experience undue hardship with the increased cost of premiums. And medium-small business owners faced hardship providing health coverage to their employees.
    Can those problems be solved without scrapping the ACA entirely? YES. The causes to most of those problems are understood fairly well, especially the problems with the individual market. The ACA can be tweaked to solve these problems and achieve more of its goals.
    Is that what is currently being sought by the powers that be? No. Because, as you said, "repeal and replace" has emotional resonance. People fell for the rhetoric and are now demanding that promise be kept. However, it is not possible to keep all of the campaign promises. The proposed AHCA is a shitty plan that exposes the compromises that must be made (coverage, cost, choice), and almost nobody likes it. As Trump admitted himself, "health care is unbelievably complicated."

So what are we going to do? Are we going to set priorities and look at data to solve real problems? Or are we going to hype up our rhetoric so that we can keep winning elections, but ultimately fail at actually solving problems?

To partially answer my own question: a) we need a legislature that is willing sacrifice some ideological purity for the sake of practical solutions (the shortcomings to the ACA were known years ago, but Obama was unable to get congressional support to implement any fixes), and b) we need a more concerted effort by political leaders to work locally, so that proper two-way communication can occur (here's the legislative intent. is it working? what problems remain? what are the most important priorities?). Neither Democrats nor Republicans have done either of these things in LOOONNNGGG time.

Comment Re: Thanks Hillary! (Score 1) 109

Half the country is very concerned with job loss (and for some, increased crime in their neighborhoods).

There, fixed that for you. I (and probably most people) agree that job loss and increased crime are things to be worried about. Attributing both problems to immigration based on no credible data is not the way to solve those problems, though. It may not be overtly racist, but it is fear without fact.

Why is it in any way surprising he had a strong base?

He won because he is a good cheerleader, and masterful at controlling his message. Probably better than Obama was during the 2008 election. That doesn't mean his policy ideas make sense, are not contradictory, or will ever actually be effective. In the same vein, Obama may have been a good orator, but he (rightfully) gets a lot of criticism from both the right and left for being a fairly ineffectual President.

Comment checked luggage only? (Score 1) 109

So, I read one news article here,

Apparently they are banning electronic devices in the cabin due to the possibility of concealing explosives in them in "a way that is hard to detect". Ok, let's assume that is true. Question from me is, what difference does it make if it is in carry-on or checked baggage? Once it is on the plane, wouldn't an attacker be able to detonate it remotely if it is in checked baggage? Am I missing something here?

Comment not "decoded" (Score 3, Interesting) 292

Scientists Successfully Decode the Genome of Quinoa

Ugh. I know this is a primarily a tech site, but why can't we make more of an effort to use the actual scientific terms instead meaningless stupid phrases.
It's kind of like saying "Company develops new method to talk to computers" instead of "Company develops new programming language, Rust"

"Scientists sequence and assemble the genome of Chenopodium quinoa (aka "quinoa")"

There, much better. Heck, that's lifted almost word-for-word from the actual scientific article, so it's not like it requires a ton of effort.

Slashdot Top Deals

A list is only as strong as its weakest link. -- Don Knuth