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Comment Wrong second number (Score 1) 322

A lot of us protested the passage of the bill at the time, knowing that its prohibitive length and ridiculously short consideration period guaranteed there was no effective review by Congress even if there could be "good" ideas in it. Not enough, and nobody was listening in October 2001, but enough to knock that second number down a bit (and that said, Russ Feingold was admittedly on his own in Congress). Still, as someone who was downtown during 9/11 and then spent seven years vigorously protesting that administration's policies, you're welcome to make that "cowards" comment to my face and see what it gets you. But what's truly appalling is not the initial passage of the bill during a time when the whole country was traumatized, but the subsequent extensions of what were originally provisions supposed to sunset in 2005. The current administration's Patriot Act extensions in 2011 sailed by the Senate 72-23, with no discernible partisan division and little outcry from the public. For those who follow civil liberties, the "most open and transparent administration in history" has turned out to be worse in many ways than the previous one, which at least pretended that its wholesale revocation of the 4th Amendment was provisional.

Comment Recently viewed texting accident (Score 2) 1440

From a restaurant window on a downtown corner, I recently viewed the following:

A large Jeep pulled up to the red light, followed by an SUV. I didn't see the first driver from my angle, but the SUV had a young woman who was texting something while waiting at the light. As the light changed, the Jeep began to move. It stopped abruptly because a late car from the cross street sailed through the intersection. Apparently cued only by peripheral vision, the woman in the SUV put her foot on the accelerator – without raising her head, while continuing to text. The SUV plowed into the back of the Jeep at a healthy speed, crumpling its own entire front end dramatically (but oddly, not doing any apparent damage to the Jeep, which had one of those large tires strapped to its back that I guess served as a buffer). Both vehicles pulled around the corner of the restaurant I was watching from, and I got to see the insurance information exchange. I found it interesting that the woman continued texting the instant the exchange was over and she had phoned for help.

Nominally, I suppose this was a moving accident but as its instigation happened when the SUV's driver was texting while motionless at a red light, I'm more sympathetic to the above article's cop's "unlawful communications" legal rationale than I might be otherwise. Although from the linked article and legality aside, the cop still sounds like a classic paper-dispensing jerk.

Comment This ignores the external values of education (Score 2) 668

[O]ver-educating the population makes nearly everyone poor.

There is a hell of a lot more value in an educated populace than can be put in dollars, even if one accepts the zero-sum premise you are outlining here. For starters, an educated population is much more likely to be a functioning civic population; that is, one that keeps its government under scrutiny and actually fulfills its end of the social contract rather than allowing the mindless pulling of a lever every four years to serve as a substitute for real governed consent.

That said, the employment value of being "educated" is becoming increasingly meaningless in a future where traditional vocational jobs that haven't yet been outsourced are being systematically eradicated by automation and the potential for AI-type programming to squash still more traditional "educated" work is growing. Cf. recent article in Mother Jones for a depressing analysis of the logical employment outcomes advanced AI could bring.

Comment Re:Your tax dollars at work... (Score 1) 812

Do you have an exact attribution or context for that quote? Googling for about 10 minutes yielded a bunch of right-wing sites citing the "Associated Press", one or two "ABC", and one individual claiming to have seen it that day on CSpan, but no newspaper citations. Given the nature of the statement, I find the lack of the latter renders it pretty suspect and am honestly curious to know the original source. FWIW, Snopes has declared another quote from the same time period (1994) to be bogus.

Comment Re:Morning Show (Score 1) 644

Try watching "Up With Chris Hayes." You may like or dislike the "liberal bias," but his approach is factual and empirically driven, and the guest selection reflects that. The comparatively long intervals spent examining single U.S. policy topics may not match industry magazines or white papers for depth, but they're probably as close as current American television will ever get. IMHO, a large step up from usual morning fare (and a big leap from the ice-pick lobotomy entries offered on Fox and Friends).

Comment IE 9 also spikes... slightly (Score 2) 212

The Infoworld article is pretty funny, and confirms what many have long assumed. However, while I'm just as anxious as anyone else to see earlier iterations of IE get their deserved due, a wider breakout shows something else: http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-ww-daily-20120101-20120402

In linked three-month period by browser version, notice that IE9 also has the same corresponding spikes (albeit smaller) on weekends. Possibly that reflects no active choice on part of home users who just use the default install (while corporate continues to play catch-up). But it might also represent a segment that simply continues to prefer IE (the "web-compliant" kind).

Comment Re:Oh So That's Why NASA Has Little Funding (Score 4, Informative) 229

The first link (filament/coronal sphere event) is apparently a wrong link and not what the poster is referring to. Try the second link for a flat photo, third link for the SDO interactive camera page. I tried the AIA settings; it shows up in a lot of them. This may be a "standard" event (I have no clue one way or the other), but it's monstrously large; I'd love an explanation or link to similar solar event if it's not totally anomalous.

Comment I'll bet the science fiction is well-covered (Score 1) 1244

However, no request for fantasy would be complete without a hat-tip to Ballantine's early 70s series. These were not like the latter-day watered-down Tolkein formulaic series that seem to litter the shelves now, but were resurrected and republished older works (many English) from a time when that decidedly less poetic paradigm hadn't yet gelled. Many formative hours were spent rooting through used bookstores looking for paperbacks with the backwards/forwards B logo and the fabulous, seminal cover art. Some I enjoyed or that at least left an impression: HP Lovecraft's "Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath", any of the Lord Dunsanys, a few of the Lin Carters (don't remember the names offhand), Cabell's "The Wood Beyond the World", David Lindsay's highly odd metaphysical and unresolved "A Voyage to Arcturus", and Peter Beagle's "The Last Unicorn" (yeah, I went there, deal with it ... and for that matter, toss on "A Fine and Private Place" although it's really off-topic here). Along similar lines, Jack Vance's Dying Earth series is fun. Hell, I think Ballantine actually put out a version of "Orlando Furioso"; that and Spenser's "Faerie Queene" ought to still have some eyeballs looking at them. If I recall correctly, all the Ballantines go well with expensive imported Krautrock vinyl for ambiance and, um, mood-altering enhancers. But for some reason, those details get a little fuzzy.

Comment Re:Cue the lawsuits (Score 1) 424

Does the public have an expectation of high production values, or does Hollywood just insist that's what they want? I think there is an unaddressed hunger for story-telling that is not being met by Hollywood at any level. Laugh at Bollywood's production values if you like but somehow they address that need without the Department of Defense-level budgeting required in the latest craptastic American action flick. Bowfinger on the topic of movie expense: "That's after gross net deduction profit percentage deferment ten percent of the nut. Cash, every movie cost $2,184."

Comment Yes, _that_ Chris Burden (Score 1) 118

Typical Slashdot readers are probably not aware of what Burden is actually notorious for in fine arts circles. As a relatively early performance artist back in the 70s, he had his hands nailed to a VW Beetle crucifixion-style. Apocryphal variants regarding this performance piece when I was in art school had him being fully nailed and driven around LA that way, which would certainly have upped the fun level had it only been true. (Just in case you might be wondering if his current interest in cars is in any way... obsessive.)

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Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig