Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


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 Yes, you should do the math. (Score 5, Insightful) 1043

You also need to count:

1) Lost worker productivity costs to the economy (most of these people have jobs)
2) Increased welfare costs (these new sick people are the age of parents and caretakers)
3) Increased long term health care costs (these sick people will not disappear in 10 years)

The costs of creating a huge underclass has serious economic implications. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the kids they have trouble teaching are the ones who don't get enough food to eat, and those who don't live in safe neighborhoods. You know, the ones you're too afraid of driving through.

The fact that there are hungry children in this country should make you feel ashamed about gleefully cutting programs that feed the poor. And you don't even have the math partially right, nor do you seem understand the basic economic facts that operate in all known current economic theory (and common sense): taking care of a population's health (including nutrition) through a public service is much cheaper for societies than only guaranteeing emergency services, unless we start euthanizing the poor in hospital parking lots. That's how two dozen other countries provide 100% coverage for at least half the cost per capita with similar health outcomes.

These new puppet conservatives do not have common sense or common decency, and further, they lack a prime signifier of adulthood: the ability to put the needs of others above their own wants. Why you would want to support them in their quest to keep tax cuts for people who don't need them while gutting basic services to the next generation of Americans is quite mysterious, unless being a parasite of the aristocratic class is something that appeals to you.

And let's face it, that's all the Republican party is. As proof of this fact, name one Republican policy that benefits the poor to the detriment of the rich. Just one.

Christ may have died for the poor, but the GOP fights for the wealthy. It's an odd reality for the party of God, isn't it?

Comment Yes, and US companies are losing billions (Score 5, Insightful) 291

U.S. cloud providers have already lost business over the NSA leaks, but now the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has a report putting a dollar amount on the short-term costs: $21.5 to $35 billion over the next three years.

ITIF based these estimates in part on the Cloud Security Alliance survey showing that 10 percent of officials at non-U.S. companies cancelled contracts with U.S. providers and 56 percent of non-U.S. respondents are hesitant to work with U.S. cloud based operators after the leaks.

And before you have pity on US firms losing this cash, remember that they have been knowingly aiding the NSA and the CIA and any other government entity that came knocking for years, and they would still be handing over our data (and they probably still are) without any concerns had Snowden not exposed the extent of the NSA's illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, and and brazenly stupid surveillance program.

When Angela Merkel is comparing the NSA to the Stasi, we've got problems. When Chinese tech firms become more trusted than American tech firms, we've got problems. When a schmuck wearing a military costume -- which is a disgrace to people who served their country instead of their government -- lies to congress about spying on Americans and gets away with it, we've got problems. "General" Keith B. Alexander was head of Army Intelligence and missed the piles of evidence pointing towards 9/11, and even after he helped the state security apparatus morph into the world's largest and most expensive spying effort, the organization under his control has still failed to stop a single terrorist attack.

The NSA, the CIA, and Mr. Alexander are a disgrace to our country, but they are unfortunately typical of American government, and the corporations that have been colluding with them for years. They're more interested in their own careers and dollar signs than they are about upholding the Constitution, but when they are caught, they hide behind their military titles and bullshit legalese because they have no redeeming qualities as individuals or as organizations.

If it seems personal, its because it is personal. It may just be a coincidence that I am flagged constantly when I cross the border for "random" searches, but I live in a country where I can't even find out why I seem to be a magnet for the attention of the security state. For my own protection, I am not allowed to know what my government is doing. And now that the NDAA has passed, an American agent could pick me up and detain me indefinitely without a trial.

Thanks for protecting American ideals from those totalitarian invaders, Mr. Alexander. You're doing a heckuva job.

Comment A tragedy in any other country is success here (Score 5, Informative) 894

"Every country is unique, but Australia is more similar to the US than is, say, Japan or England. We have a frontier history and a strong gun culture. Each state and territory has its own gun laws, and in 1996 these varied widely between the jurisdictions. At that time Australia's firearm mortality rate per population was 2.6/100,000 -- about one-quarter the US rate, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the US Center for Disease Control. Today the rate is under 1/100,000 -- less than one-tenth the US rate. Those figures refer to all gun deaths -- homicide, suicide and unintentional. If we focus on gun homicide rates, the US outstrips Australia 30-fold.

The 1996 reforms made gun laws stronger and uniform across Australia. Semi-automatic rifles were prohibited (with narrow exceptions), and the world's biggest buyback saw nearly 700,000 guns removed from circulation and destroyed. The licensing and registration systems of all states and territories were harmonised and linked, so that a person barred from owning guns in one state can no longer acquire them in another. All gun sales are subject to screening (universal background checks), which means you cannot buy a gun over the internet or at a garage sale.
Australia didn't ban guns. Hunting and shooting are still thriving. But by adopting laws that give priority to public safety, we have saved thousands of lives."

Comment Re:No, you fuck off (Score 1) 337

I know plenty of people who have been arrested. I have been arrested, detained, charged, the whole nine yards. I also know plenty of people who work in law enforcement. If anything, enforcement is too lax. It takes many, many, many encounters with law enforcement before someone ends up in prison. Even the drug crimes that everyone complains about (and do not get me wrong, I am not a fan of the war on drugs) usually end up with a series of slaps on the wrist, probation, community service, etc. Prison is often times a last resort, not in the least because of the costs involved in incarcerating someone.

Anecdotes are meaningless.

Increasingly long prison sentences, which have been adopted by many states over the past 20 years, have had a negligible effect on reducing crime rates. There is little evidence that higher incarceration rates result in lower crime rates in the first place.

In fact, more than half of all people released from prison return within three years.

One reason for this is that imprisonment, especially for lengthy sentences, destabilizes individuals, families and entire communities, which can create a dangerous recipe for higher crime rates.

Incarceration and related costs have quadrupled over the past 20 years and now account for a staggering 1 out of every 15 state discretionary fund dollars.

By 2007, states spent more than $44 billion on incarceration and related expenses, a 127% jump from 1987. Over this same period, spending on higher education rose just 21%, while the national prison population tripled.

Incarceration and related costs are the 2nd fastest growing category of state budgets; 90% of this spending goes to prisons.

By 2011, continued prison growth is expected to cost states an additional $25 billion.

Further reading:

In contrast, when examining crime rates, the percent of population that is imprisoned, and the recidivism rate in Nordic countries, the statistics demonstrate that Nordic penal systems are more successful at deterring future criminal activity when compared to the U.S. (Walmsley, 2008). The Nordic approach to punishment, the setup of their prisons, and the public perception of the purpose of the penal system are fundamentally different than the US. For example, when Norway implemented the prison model used in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, the prison population dropped from 200 per 100,000 people in 1950 to 65 per 100,000 people in 2004 (Von Hofer, 2007). Similarly, an experimental Dutch prison was created to minimize costs and increase inmate success following release, where inmate rights are of paramount concern and the ultimate goal is to teach offenders that their choices have consequences, both good and bad (Kenis, Kruyen, Baaijens, & Barneveld, 2010). Though each Nordic countryâ(TM)s (i.e., Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark) laws and prison policies vary slightly, as a whole the Nordic penal system deviates from that of other countries with higher rates of incarceration and recidivism, resulting in more favorable outcomes for the rehabilitation and education of offenders.

You can believe that corporal punishment and long term prison sentences are the best option. Or you can do some cursory research. It's up to you.

Comment Re:Yeah, making any real decision is HARD (Score 1, Insightful) 227

According to a new report released Monday by the Sunlight Foundation, 78% of 2012 outside election spending can be attributed to the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which allows unregulated amounts of corporate and otherwise outside campaign donations.

Citizens United made it easier to buy important political offices in the United States. When you have a bought Congress, not much is solvable, because the elected paradoxically owe nothing to those who voted them in. We're nobody, but the people who dropped billions of dollars in the (D) or (R) buckets are somebody.

It's not a coincidence that we have money for bloated and failing trillion dollar defense contracts and not a few billion to feed needy children. That's the predictable effect when the purpose of your government is something other than the welfare of its citizens.

Comment Re:No, you fuck off (Score 1) 337

The "victim" in question was a many time repeat offender who refused to learn his lesson

At a certain point in time you were also a repeat offender who refused to learn your lesson, if your claims of criminal activity are to be believed. You keep making the argument that the system worked, but the only arguments you are providing is how it worked for you, apparently because going "through the system" involves never being arrested, charged, or detained. And that makes sense... If you were part of the "scene" in the 90s, you were probably a privileged kid in a privileged household back in the 90s and you weren't subject to the laws the way they are enforced in post-PATRIOT Act America.

Our legal system makes a distinction between juveniles and adults.


By the age of 14, Kosta used his skills to become a low-level computer hacker and earned himself the reputation in the hacking world. He began hacking into business and military sites.

One morning, an FBI tactical squad armed with MP-5 sub-machine guns came to the door and tackled Kosta to the ground.

Since 14-year-old Kosta was emancipated from his parents, he was charged as an adult. He was found guilty of 45 counts of technical burglary, including hacking into the systems of major banks, General Electric, and IBM. The punishment would be 45 years in prison.

To support your argument, you will need to explain how society would have been served better by putting you in prison for 10 years (at a cost of about half a million dollars), and then paying for your reintegration into society -- and very likely for assistance throughout the rest of your life since you are automatically disqualified for many positions due to your criminal history.

You were lucky. You know you were lucky. Kosta was lucky. Aaron Schwartz was not so lucky. If luck is required to get sensible treatment from your legal system, your legal system is broken.

Comment Re:No, you fuck off (Score 1) 337

By putting this guy in prison, my decision has been re-enforced as being the "right" decision.

By putting this guy in prison, you are treating him differently than the way you were treated. By your own admission you were "...hacking systems, committing phone fraud, pirating warez, the whole nine yards." You got a slap on the wrist and a warning... why doesn't this guy deserve the same treatment?

If you did have faith in our current legal system, you would march to your nearest police station and confess to the crimes you committed so the current justice system can perform its civic duty. After all, if your life was destroyed by 10 years of prison and the lifetime scarring of your reputation by a felony conviction, it would serve as a warning to others and thus improve society.

It doesn't matter if it was part of your misspent youth. You knew you were taking a chance and you deserve everything that the justice system will dish out to you. Right?

Comment No, you fuck off (Score 5, Insightful) 337

You steal my personal data, sell it to someone else who uses that data to commit crimes, you are a dangerous person.

When Google and Facebook do this for a profit, hide the data collection behind an EULA, and then sell your personal data to third parties, they are called geniuses and made billionaires.

Furthermore, the individual in question did not seek to make a profit. You can disagree with his methods, but back when the scales of justice were still capable of measuring anything at all, these sort of considerations were commonly implemented.

Stop trying to make excuses when people commit crimes. They're a criminal, pure and simple.

In 1750: "Stop making excuses for those who commit treason against the King. They are criminals, pure and simple."

In 1850: "Stop making excuses for those people who steal slaves under the guise of making them free. They are criminals, pure and simple."

In 1950: "Stop making excuses for those people who participate in race riots. They are criminals, pure and simple."

Legitimate power and systems of law do not justify themselves without some reasoning. So can you tell me why people who commit physical assaults, armed robberies, and sexual assaults should see less jail time that someone who made a copy of an email archive to try and expose overreach of our privatized military economy?

How is putting this individual in prison going to

1) repair the damage they are accused of
2) improve society at large
3) cost effectively return them to society

Questions 1-3 are routinely ignored because the American incarceration system is not designed to help American society. It causes more harm than good, has shoved millions of people into a cycle of poverty and violence that few escape from, and the costs (upwards of 60-100k per prisoner per year) to perpetuate the broken system are far more than simpler, more humane justice systems found throughout the industrialized world.

This is not 1600. America is not a puritan state. Keep your dead ideas about corporal punishment in the distant past where they belong.

Comment Re:why didnt Snowden use Wikileaks??? (Score 5, Insightful) 398

But the sad fact is, he's also betraying his country

No, he's betraying the corrupt portion of his government that is secretly breaking the spirit and the letter of enumerated rights in the Constitution. When this practice is exercised in other nations, like in China, the US government and her sycophants celebrates speaking truth to power.

Moral truths have a funny way of disappearing when it comes to criticizing your own nation, but that is the realm of pretend patriots who are more attached to the power of the hierarchy then they are to the claimed ideals written into our laws.

As soon as someone starts talking about "betraying the nation/country/flag" it's fair to assume they want to stop talking about whatever the claimed injustice is. That's for two reasons, usually: an irrational attachment to the symbology of their nation (instead of a rational attachment to it's stated values), or because they are beneficiaries of the current status quo and they want to keep things as they are out of puerile self interest. And, as so often is the case, the injustice is so obvious that ad hominem attacks and pro-establishment propaganda that could make a fascist blush become the standard points attempting to cover the empty rhetoric. Bonus points for including a folksy cover of patriarchal finger wagging for "young men" who have "ruined" their lives by daring to claim the government is wrong. What a lovely American ideal that is.

The sad fact is that if the American government does not value due process, freedom of speech, freedom of press, and the right to privacy, it has ceased to become worthy of patriotism. The best parts of American culture and the vast majority of people who still believe in those values are worthy of protection, not the cancerous, bought-and-paid-for, corrupted bureaucracy that is slowly depriving them of those rights. Irrational nationalism is a central pillar of fascism.

Comment Snopes (for anyone who cares about the truth) (Score 2) 520

In the specific case offered here, context is the most important factor. The piece quoted above leads the reader to believe that much of the Australian citizenry owned handguns until their ownership was made illegal and all firearms owned by "law-abiding citizens" were collected by the government through a buy-back program in 1997. This is not so. Australian citizens do not (and never did) have a constitutional right to own firearms even before the 1997 buyback program, handgun ownership in Australia was restricted to certain groups, such as those needing weapons for occupational reasons, members of approved sporting clubs, hunters, and collectors. Moreover, the 1997 buyback program did not take away all the guns owned by these groups; only some types of firearms (primarily semi-automatic and pump-action weapons) were banned. And even with the ban in effect, those who can demonstrate a legitimate need to possess prohibited categories of firearms can petition for exemptions from the law.

Given this context, any claims based on statistics (even accurate ones) which posit a cause-and-effect relationship between the gun buyback program and increased crime rates because "criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed" are automatically suspect, since the average Australian citizen didn't own firearms even before the buyback. But beyond that, most of the statistics offered here are misleading and present only "first year results" where long-term trends need to be considered in order to draw valid cause-and-effect conclusions.

For example, the first entry states that "Homicides are up 3.2%." This statistic is misleading because it reflects only the absolute number of homicides rather than the homicide rate. (A country with a rapidly-growing population, for example, might experience a higher number of crimes even while its overall crime rate decreased.) An examination of statistics from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) reveals that the overall homicide rate in Australia has changed little over the past decade and actually dipped slightly after the 1997 gun buy-back program. (The chart found at this link also demonstrates how easily statistics based on small sample sizes can mislead, as when the homicide rate in Tasmania increased nearly eight-fold in one year based on a single incident in which 35 people were killed.)

Then we have the claim that "In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent." This is another example of how misleading statistics can be when the underlying numbers are not provided: Victoria, a state with a population of over four-and-a-half million people in 1997, experienced 7 firearm-related homicides in 1996 and 19 firearm-related homicides in 1997 (an increase of 171%, not 300%). An additional twelve homicides amongst a population of 4.5 million is not statistically significant, nor does this single-year statistic adequately reflect long-term trends. Moreover, the opening paragraph mixes two very different types of statistics number of homicides vs. percentage of homicides committed with firearms. In the latter case, it should be noted that the Australia-wide percentage of homicides committed with firearms is now lower than it was before the gun buy-back program, and lower than it has been at any point during the past ten years. (In the former case, the absolute number of firearm homicides in Australia in 1998-99 was the lowest in the past ten years.)

Other claims offered here, such as the statement that "While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months" and "There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the elderly" are even more difficult to evaluate, because they don't offer any figures or standards of measurement at all. Do they deal with absolute numbers, or percentages? Do they reflect all incidents of crime, or only those committed with firearms? How much of an increase constitutes a "dramatic" increase? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of armed robberies involving firearms has actually declined over the last several years:

1995 - 27.8%
1996 - 25.3%
1997 - 24.1%
1998 - 17.6%
1999 - 15.2%
2000 - 14.0%

Comment Re:Great... (Score 2, Interesting) 520

Australia had a similar gun control problem and solved it:

Everyone -- including the most vocal opponents of the plan -- are happy with the results, Australia remains a democracy, and there have been zero mass shootings since those changes took effect nearly two decades ago. Homicide rates and suicide rates have also declined.

Sometimes the other side is irrational, and this is one of those cases.

Comment Thank you (Score 0) 786

This exposes the two reasons America is falling behind on practically every metric there is for an industrialized nation: we aren't collecting enough taxes from the ultra-wealthy (in corporate or personal structure), and we don't invest in government institutions to perform government duties so there is no effective cost management for projects since they are all outsourced, and the government has no qualified parties to manage anything.

All of the wailing and gnashing of teeth by so-called conservatives amounts to a rather pathetic attempt at killing this program with hysterics. There are dozens of nations who pay less than half of what we do for health care per capita and have far better outcomes. They're not perfect, but they do accept the basic reality that unless you're willing to allow people to die on the street or in hospital parking lots, providing a basic level of preventative care in a single payer system for free or very cheap is better for everyone in the long run -- except for the healthcare and insurance industry parasites who are trying to attach profits to basic human needs, and the bought and sold members of Congress who have been hired to keep the money rolling in.

Fortunately, their childish plot to shut down the government when they don't get their way was a complete failure and a political disaster. However, we should prepare for more lunacy if the gerrymandering in the House is allowed to continue.

Comment Common sense? (Score 5, Insightful) 362

Is there a yiddish word for asshole?

The most damage Aaron could have possibly done is damage the profits of a private corporation. For that, he was hounded until he decided to take his own life.

Common sense tells me that his death is a tragedy, period. The only people who should be feeling shame are the sycophants who are defending the right of the powerful to abuse the powerless. May you reap what you sow.

Comment Re:NOT News For Nerds (Score 1, Flamebait) 286

Why do you think damn near every finance and sales person was chained to their desk until late on Monday evening? Because *every* business works that way.

And here I was under the impression that the military wasn't a business. But I guess suiting up for the next avoidable war has higher margins than providing basic sustenance to women and children.

Way to go, guys. You're really doing a heckuva job.

Comment It's slow and just plain ugly (Score 5, Interesting) 488

It's definitely slower and I regret upgrading.

There's not enough white space to provide any visual separation on a device so small when there is not even an attempt at drawing lines or separating elements. Almost everything is smaller and harder to read, and it's not obvious what is a "button" and what is just text in a corner somewhere. In fact, many of the improvements are simple knock offs of Android has had for a while. The world will soon be divided into Upswipers and Downswipers.

I was thinking about updating my 4S, but while 7 was a step forward for some usability cases, I'm not sure I want to stick around for whatever is next. I am tired of not having full access to the hardware, and when I heard Ives was going to cut out cruft, I didn't imagine he was going to replace the whole system with the Office 2012 theme. Unfortunately for us, they're both based upon the premise that everyone wants to live in pure white Helvetica purgatory, and I don't think most of us do.

It's probably a consequence of his background in hardware. When you cut elements out of real materials down to their simplest possible form, there is still depth and innate information because it is a physical object. When you remove all delineation and depth from two dimensional representations, new users cannot even guess at your purpose when it looks like a blank sheet of paper with text and small iconography scattered around randomly on top of it. While the elements look much better on larger screens (as found in this informal poll), things like the slot-machine style picker are not very obvious when you're scrolling around. I don't think they did much real world testing with new users on actual devices.

tl:dr; If you're a first year art student, you will absolutely love iOS 7. If you prefer to have some visual cues on what is content and what is part of the interface, you may want to hold off until Apple allows graphic designers capable of using more than one color back on the team.

Slashdot Top Deals

Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley