Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


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 Re:An excellent illustration (Score 1) 174

I had an extremely difficult time in public school, for many reasons. I was identified as a gifted student early on, but my school was a small-town school and didn't offer much in the way of an interesting curriculum. I came perilously close to failing and dropping out. Ironically, although my grades were borderline, my examination average was at or near 100% in all of my classes. The reason for this was that my school counted "daily work," i.e., veritable mountains of tedious, mind-numbing knowledge regurgitation worksheets, as 75% of a student's grade. I just didn't do them; I thought that they were wastes of time and I didn't really believe, when I looked inside myself, that I would ever get to go to college, anyway. What was the point?

So, things went downhill until finally I just read library books during class. I read about a book per day. The teachers didn't stop me; they didn't really know what to do with me. The kids ostracized me to greater or lesser degrees, depending on their own levels of social acceptance, but almost universally they recruited me to help them with their homework.

Many well meaning adults through those years told me that my youth, particularly high school, would be the greatest time in my life—that I would look back on the era with nostalgia. I told them that they were wrong, but they dismissed it, I suppose, because they perceived me as a rebellious youth who knew no better. I'm now a successful young software developer. Looking back with whatever objectivity a person can muster when reviewing his own subjective experiences, I can safely conclude that high school was the worst period in my life. Things have only gotten better since then.

Privately, I've decided that I won't put anyone through what I went through in public school. If I can't afford to send my child or children to a good, private school or tutor them myself, then I simply will remain childless.

Comment Re:There's already an Anti-Patdown Law (Score 1) 377

The aerodynamic properties of boxes would make them most unsuitable for air travel, and I'm not sure that patdowns would really help ensure safety.

However, you are correct that reasonable people can disagree on whether TSA policies constitute reasonable actions, and I certainly would not blame anyone for disagreeing with me. While I hold that current policies are reasonable, it is the duty of the courts to address such constitutional ambiguities, not I:

In 1986, the 9th Circuit Court upheld the ruling allowing airport searches to skirt the fourth amendment with the following comment: "To judge reasonableness, it is necessary to balance the right to be free of intrusion with society's interest in safe air travel." It was this ruling that allowed passage of the Aviation Transportation and Security and Security Act, which was enacted shortly after 9/11 to establish the TSA.

I am of the opinion that since that ruling, issued in an era when air travel was associated with far fewer headaches than today, TSA policy has decidedly skewed the balance between freedom and security such that the searches are no longer reasonable and that therefore, the courts should re-examine the ruling in light of today's climate and issue a new decision.

Comment Re:There's already an Anti-Patdown Law (Score 2) 377

I am implying no such thing. To reiterate:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The protection provided by the fourth amendment does not depend on whether I'm trying to board a plane or whether I'm sitting in my living room in my pajamas whacking off to yaoi. It does not matter if I'm engaging in an optional activity or if I'm in line at the DMV renewing my license; the federal government may not unreasonably search me without probable cause, and since TSA personnel are agents of the federal government, I hold that their actions are a violation of the fourth amendment.

But let's ignore the amendment for the moment and take your logic a step further. Let's say that, for the sake of everyone's greater security, the Department of Homeland Security has decided to place a patdown station at the end of every cul-de-sac so that all suburbanites can be searched on their way to work. It seems like a gross violation of their privacy, but that's okay, right? After all, they have the right NOT to leave their houses.

Sure, this example may seem silly, but so is the argument that since flying is an optional activity, the fourth amendment somehow magically does not apply. It's a slippery slope. When in doubt, always for more personal rights; never, ever, ever opt for fewer. A narrow interpretation of our personal liberties as specified in the Bill of Rights leads to a slow, imperceptible erosion in our freedoms over time. After this erosion continues over the course of many years, those freedoms can disappear forever.

Comment There's already an Anti-Patdown Law (Score 5, Informative) 377

It reads: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Comment Herd Mentality (Score 2) 393

There's one major flaw I've noticed in the /. system: groupthink and herd mentality. Anything that perfectly fits a certain mentality will get upmodded, most things that disagree with it get downmodded. Thus, people who disagree with that thinking (or even just don't care about it) have a disincentive to post, and the site attracts people fanatical about that viewpoint, perpetuating the problem.

I agree with you about Slashdot with one exception: a distinguishing quality of the Slashdot metamind is that it's at least subconsciously aware of its own biases. Witness, for example, the fact that your post -- ostensibly critical of Slashdot's readership and moderators -- was modded up to +5. It's precisely that honest admission that the system isn't perfect, and that yes, Slashdot has its systemic biases, that keeps me satisfied with the moderation system as it stands.

Comment Re:Reasoned Debate? (Score 2) 307

Optimism inspires effort, movement, and change. Cynicism inspires fear, hopelessness, and stasis. Optimism may be unrealistic, but it is exactly that unrealistic belief in the possible that motivates people to find a way to make it possible. The only good cynic was Diogenes, and he wouldn't even recognize what his philosophy has become. Cynicism is the last refuge of the lazy and weak.

You both simplify religion down to a cardboard caricature of itself. It is neither all good nor all bad.

I concede your point about my religion remark. My views on religion are significantly more complicated than what I communicated, but there is no way for you to gather that fact out of the three lines that I posted. However, just as I turned religion into a caricature of itself, so did you vastly oversimplify optimism and pessimism. For example, I can say this:

Optimism inspires laziness, complacency, and stasis. A pessimistic attitude drives increased preparation, the creation of backup plans, and fault-tolerant designs. Though a pessimist may focus on a small chance that something can go wrong, he is more likely to prepare for such a scenario than an optimist. Optimism is the last refuge of those unwilling to face negative possibilities.

Nobody can, or should, be entirely optimistic or pessimistic. A blind optimist will get burned; a blind pessimist will never try anything at all.

Comment Re:Reasoned Debate? (Score 3, Insightful) 307

Cynicism is vastly overrated. If people did not want to be better than they are they would not have invented gods in order to have something better to which to aspire.

Optimism is vastly unrealistic. Primitive humanity didn't invent gods for inspiration. They prayed repeatedly and fervently for food, shelter, and life after death. Gods are the ultimate expression of man's self-centered nature.

Comment DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! (Score 1) 307

You can see this on Slashdot too where people pounce on articles to post the established group-think for a quick '+5'

Really? And here I thought posts kvetching about how anybody who agrees with prevailing opinion is just practicing groupthink was an ideal example of Slashdot groupthink.

Whoa there, good buddy. This could get recursive faster than you can say "stack overflow."

Comment Online Voting Records (Score 1) 83

The way I see it, the temptation of 'big data' is leading businesses to draw us closer to a transparent society. I, personally, would prefer to live in a world where every public official's voting record is on display, dating back to their first local government position, correlated with their publicly-voiced positions on the issues.

While it's not quite as comprehensive as what you suggest, see http://www.ontheissues.org/tx/ron_paul.htm

Comment Re:Shut up with the "bigotry" nonsense! (Score 1) 917

Well thank you, Taco, for calling everybody who doesn't approve of homosexuality a bigot. Have you, or any of the other homosexuality-supporters, ever considered that there are more than two sides to this? You don't have to fully 100% approve or disaprove of homosexuality, and as a Catholic I take offense when being labled as one of them.

The Catholic Church knows that there's a difference between homosexual attraction and homosexual acts, something that many people on "both" sides often forget. Homosexual attraction, like any other kind of sexual preference, is influenced by a variety of factors; most important of all of those factors is conditioning (like, allowing/encouraging yourself to think homosexual thoughts, or hanging around with homosexuals, for example). Some people can't help that they have homosexual attractions and I completely understand that, as does the Catholic Church believe it or not. The difference though with the Catholic opinion is that we believe that people who experience severe homosexual attraction are called to chastity. And no, that's not "supressing your desires" like most anti-Catholic people make it sound like. Self-control is never a bad thing, last I checked.

I don't particularly care if Catholicism disapproves of the person with whom I've happily spent years of my life. Try as I might, I simply can not feel in any way guilty that rather than live only half a life, alone and in chastity, I chose to pursue a form happiness that harms no one. I am not a Catholic; I do not subscribe to your religion's ludicrous edicts. Though you are entirely free to think whatever you want about it, your religion does not have the right to impose its arbitrary, nonsensical beliefs on me.

You see, my problem with you religious types is not what you believe. I went through hell in high school, and I can now weather the worst of social ostracism and barely bat an eye. My anger comes when you try to codify your beliefs into law, thereby mandating your religion's viewpoints with no option for recourse. I do not think you are a bigot at all. Rather, I think that you are a small mind who would simply feel more comfortable living in a monochromatic world where everyone is forced to adhere to your own standard of "morality." Just stay the hell out of my private life. It is none of your business, and I do not want you in it.

Comment Seems like every generation... (Score 3, Insightful) 538

... has to have its witch hunt. What I find really odd about it is that some of the same people who now recoil in horror at the thought of what happened during the McCarthyism era will happily toss gasoline onto the pyre of anyone who is accused of pedophilia. Proof isn't an issue anymore; the accusation itself equals certain doom.

Comment Won't the normal specimens be more successful? (Score 2) 140

My understanding of biology is not exactly advanced, but won't the normal mosquito specimens live longer and thus reproduce more often than the engineered offspring with shorter lifespans? Unless whole geographic areas were populated by the genetically modified offspring, I would think that this measure would be unsuccessful in the long run.

Slashdot Top Deals

Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death. -- James F. Byrnes