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Comment Right out of Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell (Score 1) 448

Everybody at DHS and TSA -- heck, everybody in the government or who votes for somebody in the government -- should read Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell.

It's about a spy whose job is to do exactly what Al Qaeda is doing to us. If people read it and discussed it, maybe they'd see how this sort of thing is supposed to work, and exactly how perfectly we're falling for it.

Comment Re:I don't get it. (Score 1) 764

But we, the consumers would lose. Without a healthy competition, there is no pressure to lower prices. And, there is no pressure to innovate on the existing iPad for Apple. So, yes, I would love to see many tablets - some with an Apple OS, some with Windows, and some with Android. What could be better than having the choice?

Microsoft produces really interesting stuff (such as Surface), and they've made good programs, but they seem to have quality only in small things. When they go to building large systems, layers of execs get involved and turn an interesting idea into a shoddy product.

If MS was writing iPad and AndroidTablet apps, items that were small enough to escape attention from all the Dilbert-like pointy-haired-bosses, and put together teams of 5 or 6 people to work on said projects, they'd probably make a lot of interesting things that worked and bring in some money.

But with Ballmer saying "Our new tablet is a huge deal and needs to be an iPad killer!", what that means is that every manager who wants to be an Important Person is going to stick his fingers in it somewhere, and they'll end up a confused mishmash.

Here's a real example of that happening:

And here's a comic look at how things at MS can start great and end up with too many cooks spoiling the broth:

I guess what I'm getting at is that Microsoft is more likely to produce something worth using, and thus more likely to contribute to healthy competition, if small teams are building apps for other platforms. If they're trying to build a platform on their own, that'll be a Very Big Deal down at Corporate HW, and the first dozen revisions will have Clippy-like abominations in them, or be Vista-like bloated disasters, or just be Windows95,98,ME-like bugfests.

Comment Re:Hey Germany (Score 1) 1324

The state has the absolutely responsibility to protect the children's right to a decent education, and not be at the mercy of whack-job parents.

Don't parents have a responsibility to protect their kids from a whack-job state?

In my view, this works out to "Germany demands right to indoctrinate all children with state-approved education." And I'm supposed to think that nothing could possibly go wrong with that.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 1324

Well the difference is that in Germany you don't get hillbilly teachers trying to explain to you that the earth is just 5000 years old.

For now. What if the political winds go the other way and Germany pulls a Texas, deciding to drop evolution, or to include Intelligent Design? State-run schools have taught, and continue to teach, all manner of nonsense.

and yes, going to school is a law, you have to. You can't just say, no I don't want to. In Austria it is called "Schulpflicht".

And if you don't trust the government, then what? You get sent off for re-education?

Comment Hide Your Endorsement In A Help Page (Score 1) 332

I don't know exactly what you do, but if you have any files for download you can put them up in ODT and PDF format, and then have a link which says "These files are available in PDF format and ODT format. Many computers have software which can read PDF files; if yours does not, you can download it from Adobe (throw in a link). ODT files can be opened using many programs which are also available for free, including AbiWord,, and which can be downloaded from here. All of these programs can be used in Microsoft Windows, Apple's OS X, Linux, and BSD.

Another thing you might do is have a "compatibility page", in which you have FAQ-type stuff of the form "Q: If I want to send you an electronic file, what format should I use? A: We use, which can read files in many formats, including the standard ODT format as well as things such as Microsoft Word format."

Dunno if any of that helps you or not.

Comment Re:Bubby? Is that you? (Score 1) 859

t's just that your particular value system only permits one possible answer, but not everyone shares that system precisely. Disagree if you must, but at the very least you have to agree that in Germany, the german people should be allowed to make their laws as they see fit.

How far does "make their laws" go? Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber killed an actor, someone in the public eye. What if there's a biography of that actor published in 1995 or so? Does the publisher have recall and destroy every copy? Do libraries have to destroy it? What about newspaper archives? Would you have to go to all the microfilm copies and change them? Maybe their victim was famous enough to have an entry in a printed encyclopedia; would copies of those have to be destroyed?

If Mr Werlé and Mr Lauber don't like notoriety, maybe they should have murdered somebody obscure. Or, and I know this is extreme, maybe they shouldn't have murdered anybody at all.

And, of course, they shouldn't have tripped the Streisand Effect; at this rate there's going to be a TV-movie about them and they'll end up in the IMDB and have their own Wikipedia pages.

Comment Re:Houston Has Similar Plans (Score 1) 456

To claim something is impossible when someone else has said it is means you are the smartest person on the planet.

Oh, rubbish. I never said it was physically impossible; I said getting all the materials would cost too much. It won't happen, ever, because they'll never get enough people who want to pay for it. If they ever do build it, I'll be happy to admit I was wrong.

Look, I don't know what you think you're doing, but you're not winning a debate (nobody is still reading this but us), and I'm totally unimpressed by your mischaracterization of what I wrote. Who are you posting for, exactly?

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The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow