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Google

Google Login Bug Allows Credential Theft (onthewire.io) 23

Trailrunner7 writes from a report via On the Wire: Attackers can add an arbitrary page to the end of a Google login flow that can steal users' credentials, or alternatively, send users an arbitrary file any time a login form is submitted, due to a bug in the login process. A researcher in the UK identified the vulnerability recently and notified Google of it, but Google officials said they don't consider it a security issue. The bug results from the fact that the Google login page will take a specific, weak GET parameter. Using this bug, an attacker could add an extra step to the end of the login flow that could steal a user's credentials. For example, the page could mimic an incorrect password dialog and ask the user to re-enter the password. [Aidan Woods, the researcher who discovered the bug,] said an attacker also could send an arbitrary file to the target's browser any time the login form is submitted. In an email interview, Woods said exploiting the bug is a simple matter. "Attacker would not need to intercept traffic to exploit -- they only need to get the user to click a link that they have crafted to exploit the bug in the continue parameter," Woods said. Google told Woods they don't consider this a security issue.

Comment Re:If they're going to do this... (Score 1) 185

In the real world, it's been noted that employment above a certain threshold is unstable. In the United States, Full Employment is usually defined as 95%, meaning our current 4.9% unemployment is higher than full employment; some people speculate we'd be okay as low as 4%, and the 4.9% thing is incorrect anyway (UE4 is 5.6%, which includes people who would work but have given up because they think there aren't jobs for them; UE5 and UE6 include people who would like to work, but can't because their situation precludes employment on its own).

To be fair, economists speculate low unemployment causes inflation. That is to say: at low unemployment rates, a business's strategic advantage for hiring an employee exceeds the cost of market wages, and so businesses pay more. If you cause high employment by providing a ton of extra spendable income, then businesses can raise prices, capture that income, and pay it as higher wages. The benefit vanishes, debts shrink, and savings go away. Such inflation also has all of the other destabilizing effects of inflation; and with a lot of people's savings held in 401(k) markets (which inflate right along with inflation) and increased income allowing further increased spending, you can easily get a hyperinflation effect, followed by a money shortage, followed by extreme unemployment.

If the effect is particularly large, your economy collapses outright. If it's not so large, you get a minor recession, like in 2008.

As for real-world examples of negative unemployment, they don't exist because nobody has ever managed to increase the income efficiency of an economy by 15% before (we take 30% in taxes in the United States; cutting out 50% of that would be a 15% increase in take-home wages, and the way I structured it mostly puts that back down to the lower and middle-classes, so consumer spending power gets a 20%-25% boost). That is to say: Nobody's taken an economy where consumer demand requires 95% of the labor force to be employed and boosted it such that you now need 95% * 1.15 = 109% (or 1.18% for a 25% boost).

Let's put some numbers to this, and you tell me if this sounds like something that's ever happened anywhere in history.

At minimum wage, a single-adult household moves from $12,754 to $19,996 (+57% income); a two-adult married household moves from $14,166 to $27,957 (+97%).

The median household as a single-adult household moves from $42,621 to $49,085 (+15%); the median as a two-adult married household moves to $57,697 (+35%).

The median married couple household moves from $66,560 to $77,128 (+16%).

Low-income HUD households range from an extra 30% of spendable income to an increase of 111%. Single-adult poverty households (bottom 20%) range from a 38% increase to a 111% increase (the richest of the bottom 5%); married poverty households range from a 75% increase to a 219% increase (tripling their income, yes).

At the high end, a top-10% household with $158,500 of taxable income moves from a take-home income of $114,970 to $118,282 (+2.9%). The top-1% earners move from $231,721 to $230,126 (-0.79%). Someone at the top 0.1% moves from $1,065,061 to $1,056,557 (-0.80%). Someone with a $10,000,000 gross income moves from $6,078,261 to $6,036,557 (-0.69%).

At the same time, business payroll taxes reduce (businesses pay LESS to employ you, while you take home MORE), business income taxes reduce (4.5% marginal or about 11% proportional reduction), and the top-tier taxes don't exceed 40% (they're 39.6% now, and can actually be kept that way relatively easily--there's some $1,060 billion moving around here, and eliminating any and all tax increases on absolutely anyone would only involve shifting about $16-$24 billion around).

What you're looking at is a bit of financial reorganization with impact of similar magnitude to showing up in caveman days and giving them modern agriculture with GMOs and oil refineries and everything. The way we're doing things is so shitty compared to what we're currently capable of that the results look nothing short of miraculous.

So who is going to make, transport, and retail all this shit we can buy, now that over 70% of all consumers have somewhere between 1.15 and 3 times as much money to spend? When we hire them, how much money will they have to spend, and who will make the shit they start buying with it?

What do you think? Inflation equivalent to the inflation between 1980 and 2005 happening ALL AT ONCE? The rich just reclaim it all, right? In my system, 17% of that income is reclaimed and handed right back down to ... well, everyone, so suddenly everyone has even more to spend. You tick it over again, and somehow, in 5 years, you have 1000% inflation.

Remember when Zimbabwe issued a 100-trillion-dollar bill?

Comment Executive functions (Score -1, Offtopic) 127

I have ADD and had childhood ADHD. They put me on methylphenidate as a kid; I went with Modafinil recently. My psychiatrist didn't have a problem with this because modafinil is safe (my backup would be Vyvanse) to such a ridiculous degree that the DEA appears to not care if you get several years's worth illegally (I still got a Rx).

Amphetamines and methylphenidate (cocaine-like) will get you kind of high. Even phenylpiracetam at alzheimers doses (100mg) will make you feel like a freaking super hero. You feel great; you feel excited; you feel like you could climb a mountain. You want to do something. Clean your house, study a new language, run a mile--running when on phenotropil feels really fucking great, by the way, even after the drug has worn off and only like 6mg is still in your blood. This is why people kill themselves on meth (amphetamines at higher doses cause muscular breakdown--your body rots out from around you).

I'm not saying adderall isn't a great drug for ADHD, and of course Vyvanse is an excellent option because it's slow to metabolize and thus more-difficult to overdose on (get high, poison yourself); I'm just saying these are dangerous drugs, and they get you *way* motivated in safe, clinical doses.

Modafinil doesn't do that.

If I sit down to work on something, I can't stop thinking about other crap. I go do that other crap because I'm useless: trying to study on Duolingo involves staring at Duolingo while thinking about checking Fark. I struggle through. It sucks.

If I sit down to work on something on a Modafinil dose, my attention stays where I put it. I can break away--I'm not hyperfocusing--and I make continuous decisions on if I should attend a distraction or set it aside for later. The drug lets me actually work, study, and generally get things done.

Modafinil doesn't make me particularly want to work. I have to decide to do something. I have to decide to clean my house, or to study, or to attend to my job function. It's annoying, it's effort, and it's just plain dull. I can do it, but I'm not thrilled about it. For some people--and at higher doses--Modafinil makes them hate anything inefficient and want to get on with work and get their shit done; at lower doses, and at the dose I'm currently experimenting with (because my psychiatrist said to experiment with the dosing, since it won't fuck you up like Adderall if you take too much), it's an enabler instead of a motivator.

For ADD and ADHD, drug therapy works great; and cognitive behavioral therapy improves on that. CBT helps on and off the drug, and the drug often enables you to establish a CBT behavior which you wouldn't otherwise stick with. When you're not on the drug, you perform worse than when on the drug; if you've had CBT, that baseline "worse" performance is improved, so it's not as bad.

CBT includes executive function training, which encompasses things like scheduling.

Scheduling is a developed, habitual behavior in which you set aside time to attend to particular tasks. Rather than filling your time continuously, you plan out what to do with your time. You attend to certain types of work in some half-hour or hour-long block, other types of work in some other block. You break your schedule when needed, and adhere when the task at hand is not de-prioritized by other things. For the sake of mental and social health, you can reschedule things so you can hang out with your friends, so long as you then attend to those things at the new time; flexibility in scheduling comes with the habit of developing and adhering to a schedule, as changing a schedule is just creating a new schedule--something you learn to do over time.

I would suggest that this phenomena of removing access to smart phones reflects the impact of executive functions such as focus, response-inhibition, self-activation, prioritization, time management, planning, and organization. If you plan, prioritize, and retain focus on a task, then you won't constantly poke a few things and check your phone: you engage your response-inhibition, manage your time, and complete a task as a block of work rather than a casual activity interrupted frequently by playing with a nearby distraction such as a phone.

In other words: this is nothing new. They've discovered that better-organized people get more work done, and held up one particular source of distractions which unorganized people allow to interfere with their work.

(This is all familiar to me because, as you probably noticed, I've avoided ADD treatment that motivates me by drugs, and instead aimed to develop high-performance behaviors. The brain is a tool, and it can function itself as many tools; it is a multi-purpose tool. I'm improving and expanding my collection of tools. There's nothing ethically wrong with using drugs to maximize your performance; I'm more interested in permanent enhancement.)

Comment Re:We Americans should hit Apple with an European (Score 1) 196

That's a moral standpoint with no useful impact.

I designed a Universal Social Security plan which reduces the tax burden on Americans by over $1 TRILLION per year. This plan completely remediates the welfare system; establishes a stable minimum income, eliminating many risks in providing goods and services to lower-income markets (currently, their income is unstable and can go away quickly, incurring massive costs for landlords especially); and slows and thus spreads the reduction of jobs by technical progress (including globalization and automation), thus reducing the short-term economic threat of sudden rapid progress (the long-term impact is always an immense increase in standard-of-living; a sudden industrial revolution creates an economic train wreck, while a longer period of growth creates immediate prosperity).

Money bound up in big bank accounts has almost no impact on the economy. Pulling it out and spending it in bulk, suddenly, causes a temporary stimulus, and largely creates inflation. This is because more money is put into play, but not more productivity; after you stop infusing huge piles of cash into the economy, there's no support for any new jobs created, except for what technical progress has occurred during the inflationary period of excess money creation (money idled and not spent is essentially removed; pouring it into the economy is essentially money creation, and differs from printing new money in that it doesn't then increase the fractional reserve basis and lead to more money creation by loaning).

By contrast, a Universal Social Security (or other effective form of Universal Basic Income) increases the amount of take-home pay relative to cost dollars. That is to say: If an employer pays $10,000 to have an employee, then that employee's work is paid for by consumers of the product the employee makes. If the employee makes 10,000 units of said product per year, then $1 of that product's per-unit price represents the employee's pay. Out of this, the employee may take home only $6,000. UBIs such as the USS change the situation such that the employee takes home, for example, $8,000, while the employer still pays only $10,000.

Obviously, such a situation means products don't face a cost increase (you still need $1 of revenue per unit to pay that guy's salary and benefits), yet consumers have more money to spend.

Look back and think about the engineering involved there. Some changes to tax policy reduce the welfare burden by over $1 trillion per year, increasing the amount of take-home pay for all working Americans, lifting low-income households out of poverty, and ensuring even non-working Americans have income sufficient for a hard-bounded minimum (but low) standard of living. Businesses don't pay any additional costs, and particularly don't pay more costs as consequence of hiring an employee; and the employee takes home more dollars per dollar paid by the employer to employ them. That changes the stable set points of the system, increasing the consumer's spending power relative to the cost of production, thus increasing buying power.

What's the engineering involved in grabbing a fistful of cash out of Apple? Hint: Apple's entire profits ($10 billion per year) would amount to $58.48/year more in every single American's paycheck; their entire cash savings is about $1,000 per working American (ONE time, not repeating). Total actual corporate profits in the United States are roughly 10% of all income--that's not small and not insignificant (it's 10%), and it's only unimportant because the economy is so much bigger than all that.

Comment Re:If they're going to do this... (Score 1) 185

Why would we want to make everyone poorer?

Because a market with negative unemployment can't sustain itself, and rapidly destabilizes and then collapses. It's the same question as "why do we vaccinate against a fatal disease if the vaccine makes you ill for a day or two?"

The whole point of any sort of universal basic income is to make most people less poor. Yet here, you state your fix makes all people poorer.

Make all people poorer AFTER IMPLEMENTING A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME. That means richer than X, less-rich than X+n. You've slipped in a sneaky logical proposition to suggest poorer than X (the starting condition), which is a deceptive argument (lying).

Besides that, the whole point of a universal basic income is stability. A basic income prevents people from entering poverty, and creates a firm poverty floor. In the United States, not everyone has access to housing, food, and clean water; our welfare system doesn't provide that at all. HUD provides housing assistance to 1 in every 4 qualified households; the other 75% go onto a waiting list AND NEVER RECEIVE A BENEFIT. Unemployment insurance pays a benefit for only 6 months.

A basic income can remediate all of this. My Universal Social Security plan immediately places all HUD-qualified households above the poverty line--and bumps everyone from the lowest 5% of incomes up (that's about $7k/year) above the single-person household poverty line. It creates a minimum stable income class, whereas currently lower income classes are *unstable*--meaning low-income rental units today have to charge a high mark-up to cover risk of lost income (i.e. evictions, empty units), while low-income rental units under an effective form of basic income don't face that particular risk and so can charge a rent affordable by non-working individuals and *still* turn a reliable profit. Food, personal care, and other needs are within financial reach as well. It's a very low standard of living, and it's one we simply can't guarantee in our current system.

This approach *also* prevents sharp unemployment spikes from technical progress, such as mass automation. Rather than raise wages for the classes of workers whose jobs are easy to reduce, you provide them a supplemental income. That means they have more buying power, and they don't cost the employer any additional money. There is, thus, no added pressure to replace them as a cost-reduction measure, and so strategic integration (i.e. employing a more-expensive human because you think the machines will be even-less-expensive in a few years) carries a lower risk (cost) and a relatively-higher benefit (the gap between your wage and the cost of the machine is smaller, so the business can swallow that if it expects a big ROI for later implementation). Different businesses will have different risk appetites and tolerances, and so this situation causes a more-gradual replacement of labor, allowing the market to adjust and provide replacement jobs before unemployment increases too much.

The side-effect of all this is it's $1 trillion cheaper: it reduces effective tax burden on Americans by 40% ($1 trillion), and moves the remainder of replaced service costs directly into low-income consumer hands rather than into bureaucratic benefits systems. That tends to adjust from low-efficiency (high-margin) business to high-efficiency (low-margin) business, creating a hell of a lot of jobs. On-balance, it's more jobs than people; and an increase in the labor force would just push spending power up, leaving us with even more jobs and still not enough people.

That effect is reigned in by cutting back on working hours. That makes everyone poorer by cutting back production (fiat currency is backed by productive output rather than something like gold). With 118%-123% employment, a cut of 20% would bring us to 5.6%-1.6% unemployment (anything less than 4% unemployment is dangerously low), with similar productivity to current. That means the same proportion of income is worth roughly the same amount of purchasing power (slightly more), and the basic income still buys all the same things (or slightly more); but everyone works 20% less, and has less purchasing power with which to create an unsustainable number of new jobs.

It's like an airplane engine: there's about 40,000 moving parts, not just a prop spinning. A complete redesign of the radial engine driving the prop can spin the same prop at the same speed while consuming less fuel. Stop looking at the prop and asking why do anything if nothing changes.

Comment Ranked voting, please! (Score 1) 596

This might require considerable effort to get the GUI usable, but I think it'd be highly worthwhile to migrate polls to a non-plurality system involving ranking each item. Ideally, this would involve drag-and-drop of items into a final ranked list (favorite at the top, least favorite at the bottom) and then use a Condorcet method such as the Schulze method (as used by Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, FSFe, ...).

I think this would strongly benefit even polls like this one, where it's not as much "preference" as it is choosing what is most representative of your computing. Doubly if the poll's options were designed with that in mind. So, keeping it limited at 8 options (which seems like a sane number to me, btw), the current {BSD, deb, rpm, os x, solaris, win7+, older win, other} might become {deb, rpm, other free *nix, non-free *nix (OS X, solaris), win7+, older win, other free, other nonfree}, allowing people to better bucketize their responses, e.g. a Mint user might say deb, other free *nix, rpm, other free, non-free *nix, and then some arrangement of the remaining options.

This brings us to the question of how to deal with equals. Condorcet methods like Schulze don't facilitate such things (they need a winner for each pair of options for each voter), but it might be too much to ask people who e.g. don't care about non-free OSes to actually rank them; maybe they can just be randomized? You'll want a randomized listing of the options anyway (regardless of whether you have ranked voting, randomized poll options are essential for ensuring a sound experimental design ... though this may screw with polls designed to be read in a particular order, insert shed tear for CowboyNeal here), so if a user's less desired options are just left in whatever order they remain in after dragging the preferred options to the top, you get this by default, without any hidden randomization.

Let's come back to this poll and its groups; Win7+ is winning at 33%, but deb (27%) + rpm (7%) is tied at 32% (I assume ~2% error). If this were a ranked vote, even the simpler instant runoff format, we'd probably see Linux "win" unless there are enough flamers out there that e.g. despise RPM enough to promote Windows higher.

I'd particularly like to see what slashdotters would do with a ranked vote of the US presidential candidates (to compare with the plurality version run last month), though I also think that about most polls here (even e.g. vi/emacs/other given how many "others" there are).

(See also this older proposal for ranked voting and this example of the flaws in each voting method, which has a toy election in which each candidate wins with a different voting method.)

Comment Re:WTF Profits (Score 4, Insightful) 295

People say "profits" a lot. They try to ignore that prices don't follow inflation, and that costs are real.

The long and short of it is, somewhere behind the opaque shroud, Apple goes from selling the last-model iPhone at a 10% profit to selling it at a 10% loss. What's probably actually happening is people just aren't interested in spending on a new phone now, and will take a low-cost phone at a bargain. Apple can't cut the current-model back to that cost, and can't even get the old-model down that low, and so is trying to hit prices that the consumer will pay by cutting costs back.

In other words: the "cutting into profits" is more like "losing business, and facing extinction." Apple isn't going to die out today; they know that if they can't keep their phones in the consumer market, they're going to die out in a decade, maybe. Strategic executives actually look way ahead and try to minimize the likelihood of such an outcome.

You're talking about a 20% mark-up, and you've managed to ignore that Apple will take a 10% mark-up but the consumer won't pay $600 for a $550 phone. If Apple wants to sell a phone like that in a market of $350 full-featured phones, it needs its Chinese manufacturers to deliver a $350 phone that it can *maybe* mark up to $400 as a premium option.

At the base, this happens when competitors are offering top-of-the-line technology at the break-out price point. 10% more for 10% more feature, until you're suddenly paying 50% more for 10% more feature; you stop just at that point, and now your next competitor can only offer a better product at 1.5 times the price. Yours might cost $400, but their barely-any-better gadget now costs $600. Even if most of your market is in mid-tier $250-$300 phones, your major competitor can't distinguish themselves as a better product without a distinguished price point: to stand apart in features, you must stand apart in price.

This is a common strategy for other reasons. You release a low, mid-tier, and high-end flagship product; then the customer sees that the mid-tier product is much cheaper than the top-tier product but almost as good, and buys the mid-tier product due to its excellent value. Without the top-tier product, they make a more price-conscious decision, determining their need rather than bare purchasing efficiency. What I've described is an extension: you ensure that the high-end flagship product of distinction is someone else's, and that it's *very* expensive by way of making the most-expensive *reasonable* product on the market yourself. Maybe nobody buys your Galaxy S7; but they're sure as hell not going to spend twice as much on a fucking iPhone.

Apple has the extra disadvantage of not selling a mid-tier product; they sell the iPhone 5 currently, which broadcasts loudly that it's an out-of-date product because it was the premier product four years ago. If it was called the iPhone 7n (new budget offering), people would perceive it as a modern, budget-friendly phone without all the bells and whistles.

Comment Re:If they're going to do this... (Score 1) 185

Because creating further artificial labor scarcity via work week restrictions will fix a labor scarcity problem.

Labor restrictions restrict productivity, raising prices and reducing what people buy, thus reducing employment. In short: you have less to barter with, therefor there is less you can barter for, therefor somebody who produces something will find nobody can pay them for the product, and so he becomes unemployed.

Imagine you spend 10% of your income on food, 4% on clothing, 2% on personal care, 30% on housing, 18% on transportation, and 36% on entertainment and other non-essential spending. Call it by dollars: $100, $40, $20, $300, $180, $360. You have a total of $1,000 to spend.

Now imagine everything just got 20% more expensive because everyone working 5 days making $1,000 is now working 4 days making $1,000 and, for every 5 such people, we hire another worker making $1,000 to fill in the gap (i.e. that last day costs an extra $200 per person now). I suppose you got this far and then determined there's that extra worker now, right? Let's look at it further.

So now nobody's getting paid more; they're working less, and MORE PEOPLE ARE BEING PAID to make the products you buy. Your expenses are $120, $48, $24, $360, $216, and $432. That's $1,200--or $200 more than you were able to spend before, and even more than you're able to spend now.

Well let's tie it all together. Food, clothing, personal care, housing, transportation... that's $768 right there. You have about $232 to spend on the other stuff you were buying--about 64% as much. 36% of the production related to those jobs is now unsustainable (there's no revenue to pay all those wages), and so those jobs vanish.

That's the point. You create a situation where people have more money to spend than there are workers to supply, and then you boost the labor expense of anything they want to buy by restricting labor hours. Suddenly everything becomes more expensive, but nobody has any more money; the capacity to buy products beyond what our labor force can supply goes away, because we're suddenly all poorer.

Comment Re:If they're going to do this... (Score 3, Interesting) 185

Interesting (to me): One of the side-effects of my Universal Social Security proposal is excess demand--a labor shortage. The fix is re-defining full-time working hours as 26-32 hours per week, meaning everyone gets dropped to 4-day work weeks. This happens because it's a trillion dollars cheaper than current strategy.

In theory, with or without salary adjustment, dropping everyone's work time by 20% decreases their share of labor pay. That is to say: to make 1,000 things takes 4 people, or it takes 5 people each working 80% as much. As long as your entire economy changes at this ratio and wages don't change relative to each other (they can increase, decrease, or stay the same, but all by the same percentage), whatever salary you end up with is suddenly only capable of buying 80% as much.

In practice, I'm pretty sure we have a lot of part-time workers (I've looked this up before) and a lot of slack time. On one hand, part-time workers would experience no change, so neither their income nor the influence they have on price would change: the stuff they make wouldn't become any more expensive. On the other, many people would work the same amount and spend their work slack-time as leisure-in-earnest instead of non-productive office hours: instead of being restricted by the facade of office hours, you'd be outside work enjoying the time you're spending doing nothing useful.

That's actually a bigger problem. It means cutting hours without a salary cut raises the price of certain goods for part-time workers, but not for office workers; while cutting hours with a salary cut raises the price of certain goods for full-time workers, but not part-timers. The first case is regressive onto the poorer, and benefits the middle-classes; the second is harder on the middle-classes, and doesn't directly-benefit the poor. The second case is arguably better, since cutting working time in this way definitely cuts buying power in total, so someone has to get poorer, and you've restricted how much that happens and to who; but it has obvious undesirable issues.

On the other hand, the end result would probably be about break-even for the middle classes in total (when you include the Universal Social Security benefit), plus a 3-day weekend every week, so ... eh?

Books

Belgians Are Hunting Books, Instead Of Pokemon (reuters.com) 37

An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report:Inspired by the success of Pokemon Go, a Belgian primary school headmaster has developed an online game for people to search for books instead of cartoon monsters, attracting tens of thousands of players in weeks. While with Pokemon Go, players use a mobile device's GPS and camera to track virtual creatures around town, Aveline Gregoire's version is played through a Facebook group called "Chasseurs de livres" ("Book hunters"). Players post pictures and hints about where they have hidden a book and others go to hunt them down. Once someone has finished reading a book, they "release" it back into the wild. "While I was arranging my library, I realized I didn't have enough space for all my books. Having played Pokemon Go with my kids, I had the idea of releasing the books into nature," Gregoire told Reuters. Though it was only set up a few weeks ago, more than 40,000 people are already signed up to Gregoire's Facebook group.

Comment Re:Less Power For You (Score 1) 156

Doing more with less is how technology works; and technology comes with discovery, not mandate.

Natural gas burned in power plants and transmitted as electricity produces much more light out of LED lamps than natural gas piped to gas lamps. They couldn't just up and switch to electricity and LED lamps 50 years before Edison and Westinghouse, even if the Government told them they had a week to figure out how to produce more ten times light with half as much gas.

(The chief effect of all this is less labor: you use 5% as much gas to run lights, that means 5% as many human labor-hours invested in running lights, and that proportion of society--not those particular people, but the constant inflow of people becoming working-age adults to replace the retiring seniors, at least at least--can now become doctors and engineers, since we don't need them mining for gas. Again: you can't just dictate there shall be more doctors and fewer farmers, and the halved farm workforce shall work to produce twice the food output at half the price; it won't work.)

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