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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 39 declined, 12 accepted (51 total, 23.53% accepted)

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Submission + - Forget The Video Game Console, Remember The Atari Democrats! (jacobinmag.com)

creimer writes: The DailyKos posted a fascinating blurb about the Atari Democrats: "In the 1980s, with the increasing eclipse of the traditional New Deal base, many of the Watergate Babies began to place an even greater emphasis on the private sector — particularly the high-tech industry, earning them the label 'Atari Democrats.' The cohort expanded to include Tennessee senator Al Gore and Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt, who joined other Atari Democrats in touting the importance of public-private partnerships and developing better relationships between government and business, especially tech companies. While many of these tech-minded Democrats believed in extending opportunity, they thought market-based and privatized programs were more effective in the post-industrial economy than New Deal-style remedies. 'The solutions of the thirties,' their mantra went, 'will not solve the problems of the eighties.'"

Submission + - The Other Side of The Node.js NPM Code Fiasco

creimer writes: After a programmer removed 250 modules from the Node.js NPM package manager in retaliation for NPM removing the kik module because it conflicted with the brand name for the Kik IM app, the disappearance of eleven lines of code in the leftpad module broke many popular JavaScript applications. Mike Roberts at Kik explains how a simple request to change an existing module name to release a new JavaScript library under the Kik brand name blew up on the Internet, posting the entire exchange between the programmer and NPM.

Submission + - Removing 11 Lines of Javascript Broke Node.js and Other Projects (theregister.co.uk)

creimer writes: According to The Register: "Programmers were left staring at broken builds and failed installations on Tuesday after someone toppled the Jenga tower of JavaScript. A couple of hours ago, Azer Koçulu unpublished more than 250 of his modules from NPM, which is a popular package manager used by JavaScript projects to install dependencies. Koçulu yanked his source code because, we're told, one of the modules was called Kik and that apparently attracted the attention of lawyers representing the instant-messaging app of the same name. [...] Unfortunately, one of those dependencies was left-pad. [...] It pads out the lefthand-side of strings with zeroes or spaces. And thousands of projects including Node and Babel relied on it."

Submission + - A Rising Call to Promote STEM Education and Cut Liberal Arts Funding (nytimes.com)

creimer writes: According to The New York Times, so states wants to promote funding for STEM majors at the expense of liberal arts majors. "Frustrated by soaring tuition costs, crushing student loan debt and a lack of skilled workers, particularly in science and technology, more and more states have adopted the idea of rewarding public colleges and universities for churning out students educated in fields seen as important to the economy. When it comes to dividing the pot of money devoted to higher education, at least 15 states offer some type of bonus or premium for certain high-demand degrees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures."

This raises an interesting question: if its bad for the federal government to pick winners and losers in the free market economy, is it good for states to pick winners and losers among college majors?

Submission + - The Hunt for Red Mercury - Fact or Fiction? (nytimes.com)

creimer writes: One of the most strangest stories to come out of The New York Times is the Cold War nightmare of red mercury that ISIS could use as a WMD against it's enemies: "Red mercury — precious and rare, exceptionally dangerous and exorbitantly expensive, its properties unmatched by any compound known to science — was the stuff of doomsday daydreams. According to well-traveled tales of its potency, when detonated in combination with conventional high explosives, red mercury could create the city-flattening blast of a nuclear bomb. In another application, a famous nuclear scientist once suggested it could be used as a component in a neutron bomb small enough to fit in a sandwich-size paper bag."

Submission + - What Northern Hemisphere Astronomers Are Missing From The Southern Hemisphere (nytimes.com)

creimer writes: The New York Times Sunday Review has an interesting article on the astronomical night life when viewed from Sao Paulo, Brazil, featuring a treasure trove not visible to astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere: "Yet the Southern Hemisphere claims the three brightest stars of the night sky: Sirius, Canopus and Alpha Centauri. Canopus belongs to the Carina constellation, notorious for two things: the Carina Nebula, four times as large and even brighter than the famous Orion Nebula, and the star system Eta Carinae, which is expected to burst as a supernova or hypernova sometime in the next thousand years. (A scientist told the BBC that the explosion would be so bright that you would see it during the day, and you could even read a book by its light at night.) Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, the 11th-brightest star, are called “The Pointers,” as they form a line in the sky to the constellation Crux (the Southern Cross). Crux is the smallest of all 88 constellations but one of the most distinctive. It is visible at practically any time of the year in all of the Southern Hemisphere."
Government

Submission + - China Brushes Out Distinctive Hues of Names (nytimes.com)

creimer writes: "The New York Times is reporting that some Chinese citizens will have to change their name for the new identity cards.

"The bureau's computers, however, are programmed to read only 32,252 of the roughly 55,000 Chinese characters, according to a 2006 government report. The result is that Miss Ma and at least some of the 60 million other Chinese with obscure characters in their names cannot get new cards — unless they change their names to something more common.""

IBM

Submission + - FORTRAN Creator Is Dead

Christopher D. Reimer writes: "The New York Times is reporting the death of John W. Backus, 82, creator of the FORTRAN programming language. From the article: 'Mr. Backus and his youthful team, then all in their 20s and 30s, devised a programming language that resembled a combination of English shorthand and algebra. Fortran, short for Formula Translator, was very similar to the algebraic formulas that scientists and engineers used in their daily work. With some training, they were no longer dependent on a programming priesthood to translate their science and engineering problems into a language a computer would understand.'"
Links

Submission + - Only 1% Of Web Pages Are Sexually Explicit

Chris Reimer writes: "The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that only one percent of web pages are sexually explict. From the article: 'A confidential analysis of Internet search queries and a random sample of Web pages taken from Google and Microsoft's giant Internet indices showed that only about 1 percent of all Web pages contain sexually explicit material. [...] The ACLU said the analysis, by Philip B. Stark, a professor of statistics at the University of California, Berkeley, did not appear to substantially help the Department of Justice in its effort to prove that criminal penalties are necessary to protect minors from exposure to sexually explicit information on the Internet.'"
Software

Submission + - Venezuelan Gov. Interest In U.S. Voting Software

Chris Reimer writes: "The New York Times is reporting a federal investigation of the the Venezuelan owners of Smartmatic Corporation, a voting software company, and whether the anti-U.S. government is trying to influence the U.S. midterm elections. According to the article: 'Government officials familiar with the Smartmatic inquiry said they doubted that even if the Chávez government was some kind of secret partner in the company, it would try to influence elections in the United States. But some of them speculated that the purchase of Sequoia could help Smartmatic sell its products in Latin America and other developing countries, where safeguards against fraud are weaker.'"
Portables

Submission + - Finding a brand new manual typewriter...

Chris Reimer writes: "Call me an old fart but I been trying to find a brand new manual typewriter at a reasonable price so I can fulfill my Hemingway fantasy of writing on a typewriter and drinking a shot between pages. (The MacBook is nice but falls a bit short in the fantasy department.) There seem to be only one model from two different vendors (the MS 25 from Olivetti and Royal). Does anyone know if there are other manual typewriters available?"
Security

Submission + - American Fish Enlisted For Terrorism War

Chris Reimer writes: "The BBC is reporting that the American Bluegills fish is being used as an early warning system for dangerous substances in the local water supply. From the article: 'A small number of fish are kept in tanks which are constantly filled with water from the municipal supply. The computerised system registers changes in the fishes' vital signs and sends an alert when something is wrong. Since 11 September 2001, the US government has taken the threat of attacks on water supplies seriously.'"

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