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Comment Re:Think of the constitution. (Score 0, Flamebait) 745

Sorry, no. "Ex post facto" has nothing to do with increasing the punishment after conviction. It refers specifically to declaring something illegal, then prosecuting somebody under that law based on conduct that occurred before the law was passed. Regardless, punishment is increased after conviction and sentencing all the time. Violate the terms of your probation? Straight to the slammer. Start a fight in prison? You get sent to solitary. And so on.

Let's address some of the other things you may be misinformed about. This is not a bill of attainder, because it doesn't address specific people or groups of people. And no, the "group" of people who are in prison doesn't count, because potentially ANYBODY could be in prison for some other crime. If the bill stated that it only applied to black people, or people named Steve, then it would not be permissible. It's also (arguably) not a due process violation, because since it is a civil punishment and not a criminal one, the standard is lower than what is necessary to convict a person of a crime and send him to prison. You still need to convince a judge under this law, so there is still a due process issue. But the Supreme Court specifically did not address that in this case.

What's at issue here is ultimately whether the United States, given the authority to imprison somebody for a crime, can indefinitely extend that time under a civil statute based on a showing to a judge that it is necessary. This is not legally any different from the authority to put somebody in solitary confinement, or deny access to privileges based on behavior. I'm not comfortable with the ruling in this case, and I agree with Justices Thomas and Scalia that this is an inappropriate extension of government power. But please get your facts and legal terminology straight before going off half-cocked based on your limited legal understanding.

Comment Re:Ubuntu... (Score 1) 269

Ah, but you're making the erroneous assumption that things are made simpler or easier for the sake of appealing to the lowest common denominator. Another point of view, is that people want simpler tools for the sake of performing a few common and specific tasks. Not, everyone has the time to fiddle around with installing sound drivers from source. They may just want to play some music while their attention is focused on other tasks. The computer can be a tool to use and not a project in and off itself. Just look at the ipad, kindle, or various mp3 players. They are essentially gimped down computers that perform a few tasks very well. And, for that they are popular.

In fact, your reply kinda drives home my point. Some users believe that because they endured some trail-by-fire, like hacking through a linux install for over a day, are somehow superior in intelligence to the rest of the masses, that any efforts make those tasks easier are simply appealing to dumb people. Because cearly, only a select few can do what you've done and you're special. Not everyone is a programmer, artist, engineer, or clinician. Their interactions with and needs of a computer will necissarily be different. This doesn't mean that ubuntu is cludgey or that it's users are dumb, just that it serves a different audience.

You should keep in mind that a computer is only as fast as the user+computer. If a computer performs blindingly fast, but has a crappy interface, it will never be used and never be useful. E.g. if you had to use a computer in russian, or some other language you weren't immediately familiar with, you'd bemoan having to learn another language just to write an email, and you'd create or use something else. In conclusion, Ubuntu is sufficient for some people and your comments are just downright rude for making assumptions about them.

Comment Re:Oh noes...not radio! (Score 1) 248

I agree with the sentiment, but if we were to single out one thing, it makes sense for it to be cellphones. Cellphones emit radiation that has to be picked up miles away, so a large portion is going through you. Most of what you mentioned receive radiation from miles away, so you are being hit by only a fraction of the radiation the source emits. Cordless phones only have to transmit a few feet- maybe a few hundred at most, so they can be low-power compared to your cellphone. Two-way radios would be emitting when talking into it, but generally aren't used for extended conversation like with cellphones.

I don't know the relative power of all these devices or sources so I don't know how well the above argument holds, and in the end I am skeptical that heavy cellphone use causes cancer, but cellphones are so common it makes sense to make sure. I would rather we do dozens of studies that simply confirm our expectation of no correlation, than to decide not to do a study that would have proven our expectations wrong.

Comment Re:whether or not there is any risk... (Score 1) 248

It shouldn't be too hard to reduce exposure to cancer-inducing cellphone radiation if any such radiation exists- it helps to know definitively so we can take action as needed. Given we already have measures to reduce the risk of getting cancer from sunlight (limit exposure, use sunscreen), we can safely move on to seeking out other means of getting cancer and dealing with them.

I would be very careful using the "why worry about X at all when Y is a bigger problem" argument. It is useful if you have to choose one thing or the other, but falsely implying you have to make a choice or distorting what the choice is just makes the argument misleading and hurts your credibility. Sure, sunlight is a bigger cancer risk (if cellphones pose any risk), but I don't see what study we should have done with regard to sunlight that would be more insightful than studying cellphone/cancer correlation. Sun-induced cancer is fairly well understood, so it makes sense to move on to what we don't know.

Comment Re:Incentives to innovate (Score 2, Insightful) 155

The patent system is designed to promote innovation - it wasn't designed to protect any individual or corporation regardless of size.

That's a bit disingenuous. At the time the patent system was created, there was no notion of a corporation as we know it today with most of the same rights as an individual. As far as I've been able to determine, corporations didn't typically own patents until around a century after U.S. patent law came into being, though it's hard to say that with any degree of certainty.

More to the point, when the patent system was created, we didn't have works for hire. We didn't have work contracts that require employees to assign all patents to their employer. And so on. Those assignment agreements completely change the nature of patents from benefitting the inventor to benefitting someone else in exchange for continued employment for a while. Thus, the patent system is not at all operating as originally designed, dramatically diminishing the incentive to innovate. After all, if you have a job anyway, where is the added incentive to come up with these great ideas? A chance to maybe get a raise, maybe get a bonus, maybe get squat? It's hardly a good deal for the inventor, though it's a great deal for the leechers.

The real question is whether corporate-owned patents have produced more innovation. I would contend that the reverse is true. If corporations had to go back to explicitly negotiating a license for each patent from its inventors, individuals would have greater incentive to come up with innovative ideas because they would reap the benefits directly instead of indirectly through their salaries (which rarely reflect a reasonable price for the contribution of those patents).

Comment More like ad-hoc story telling (Score 3, Insightful) 170

That's how it seems to me anyway. Practically every episode means more characters, more mysteries, more loose ends created, and none of the 150 other major loose ends resolvedeven, and more incoherency. It seems like the writers just make things up as they go along.

It reminds of the way a small child might make up a story: "and then, the invisible guy is no longer invisible, and then the dead guy is no longer dead, and then a nuclear bomb explodes, and then they find a hidden Chinese temple, and then a smoke monster kills everybody in the temple, and then they find a secret lighthouse, and then they find a secret cave, and then this little kid keeps appearing and disappearing, and then . . . "

Comment Re:so what about Java? (Score 1) 944

You need to learn a little bit about signing.

Just like Apple can revoke the key of a single application in the app store, so to can the key of an applet or webstart application be revoked. In fact, java applications can be signed down to jar file level.

Ability to revoke individual applications is not a reason to refuse java. And since Apple themselves produce the JVM on Macs neither is the excuse about needing to control security. They can issue a patch any time they like for their own JVM.

Comment Re:Perhaps... (Score 2, Insightful) 567

To be fair, being called an idiot instead of a reasonable reply is pretty much inherent to the entire IT community. We're an entire culture of people that have long since forgotten that our job is ultimately to provide a customer service.

I think the problem is that most of the people calling you an idiot, are not AT WORK. They're more like an after hours meeting of professionals, and many of the people asking are like going up to a bunch of doctors discussing medical procedures (their version of tools) and asking them to take a look at the rash on their leg. Yes, they probably could examine him but they don't want to, don't care and just want you to go away. And if you keep bugging them they'll tell you that you're an idiot. Come back for a paid appointment if you want customer service.

Many open source projects exist only to share source with other developers, they don't care about delivering a "product" or "service". Even if your problems are real, nobody is obliged to care that it doesn't work for you. Sure having users means it's a good project but they'd never run an ad campaign to get more even if they had the money. Particularly not if it's the kind of users that ask them to be the Support Desk, User Training, Free Customization or CS101. The exception are the projects and distros that actually care about customers because they're part of a cash flow, but most are all volunteers.

Particularly the cost of software completely eludes people, they're used to buying COTS software for a few dollars because it is sold in thousands if not millions of copies. Even a small enhancement will including specification, design, implementation and testing easily cost hundreds of dollars even if you charge minimum wage. Certainly way past the point most people do favors just because you asked so nicely. Same with real incident support, getting anyone with more than a support script to look at your case requires a really costly support plan.

In fact, many times I almost feel open source works almost opposite of a normal support desk. We may assist you in solving your own problem, but it's not our problem. If you think gathering all those logs, creating steps to reproduce, reading that debug output, applying those patches, rebuilding the kernel or whatever is too much work it's your problem not ours. If you can pin it down but nobody will write a patch it's your problem not ours. If you can't find the bug it's still your problem not ours. Most the anger outbreaks I see are from people desperately trying to say "It's not my problem, and no matter how much you nag it's not my problem."

Comment Moron Greens (Score -1, Flamebait) 432

But George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, hailed the decision, saying it was 'a critical step toward ending our reliance on foreign oil and achieving energy independence.'

Setting aside the fallacy that we can ever be "Energy dependent" or stop consuming "foreign oil" if we want to remain a first world country, unless those windmills are going to be attached to cars, it's not going to have any impact at all on oil consumption. Only about 2.5% of US electricity generation is via oil, and almost none of that is from MA. If you want to argue that having taxpayer subsidize inefficient electricity production is a good thing, fine, we can have that argument, but don't pretend it has anything to do with decreasing consumption of oil.

Stupid hippie.

Comment Re:Terrible Idea (Score 1) 409

So you're moving more and more towards a nation that sits walled in on it's continent, and has the capability to swiftly strike at any point on the globe without having to worry about it's people being out there ?

This worries me.

Comment Re:Security through obscurity? (Score 1) 1015

You were funny, but I still want to address a serious point.

If aliens come here from those star systems light years away,
they figured out the energy problem. They are not going to
want to take over our coal mines and natural gas deposits.
I assume they have much better energy sources. I do not know
anything else (as resource) that would not be found on other
(uninhabited) planets than the fossil fuels.

Of course that still leaves the possibility that they just
want the living space (oceans greens etc.) and/or would see us
as food as delicacy. (Maybe the better meaning majority would
make laws to declare us endangered, like we do with the whales,
but some would still hunt us for fun/profit.

But if colonization is what drives the aliens, then they would
surely find planets that can serve for that purpose without
intelligent life and much closer to their origins. (There are
billions of systems etc.) Why would they want Earth with an
ecosystem damaged and being damaged by humanity? I just assume
they would much rather have a clean planet...

The only issue I can see is if we are competition to these aliens
colonization efforts of other planets. But we are not there yet,
and when we get there, hopefully we will be able to protect
ourselves.

But, it is an interesting question to ponder: Assume we were on our
way to colonize other planets and got near to some prospective
one. We notice that there is life there and may be intelligent
(say on the level of the Neandertales which is what we would appear
to aliens today I assume). What would we do? Keep looking
further (cost) or eradicate them or enslave them (less cost, high
moral cost)? Now go see Pocahontas or Avatar!!

Comment Re:I wonder how long until it "accidentally" leaks (Score 1) 1224

The bits I think apply are the bits that Jesus taught, not other men. The religion (mine anyway) revolves around what Jesus taught, not the disciples. It's easy to be a Christian, but damned hard to follow Christ's teachings (and I don't always succeed).

Unfortunately, your religion still revolves around what other men taught. You just happen to give these bits more value because you believe the tradition that Jesus spoke them.

Comment They destroyed Hatfill (Score 4, Informative) 164

The Atlantic magazine just published a really eye-opening article on Steven Hatfill, the FBI's first suspect. It is very clear from the article that the FBI was hell-bent on finding a perpetrator of the crime even in the absence of any solid evidence. It's an interesting and frightening read about how the FBI could completely destroy your job, your friends, your day-to-day life, and your family if they falsely accuse you of a crime.

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