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Comments

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Terran Computational Calendar Introduces Minimonths, Year Bases, and Datemods

Dave Emami Meh (209 comments)

I prefer the Unix-based method from Vernor Vinge's A Deepness In the Sky. Everything is seconds based on the Unix epoch, with SI prefixes for longer periods -- ksecs (00:16:40), msecs (about 11.6 days), gsec (about 31.7 years), etc. With processing power as ubiquitous as it is, converting back and forth when planetary/celestial timing really matters is trivial. Most of our non-analog timing devices already work this way already, and those that don't (LED alarm clocks) are being phased out by devices that do work that way (smartphones). Granted this isn't any more likely to be used than the TCC, but at least it's cleaner.

about 3 months ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Dave Emami Re:Not even much money (423 comments)

This is complete and utter bullshit. I'm sick of people conflating basic human needs and monetary systems.

Who said anything about money? I said trade. If Ook the caveman gives Thagg the caveman some fish in exchange for a bearskin -- as opposed to clubbing Thagg over the head and taking the bearskin -- that's trade, just as making a lean-to out of branches is engineering, adding 2+2 is mathematics, and Ook and Thagg grunting at each other is communication. Everything else is just an increase in sophistication and scale. And when Chief Krunk starts deciding whether or not Ook and Thagg can exchange fish and bearskins, that's regulation, and (assuming they can't simply kill him) Krunk's goodwill is now valuable to Ook and Thagg. Krunk's probably going to be getting some "donations" of trout and furs.

about 4 months ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Dave Emami Re:Not even much money (423 comments)

True capitalism at work, everything is for sale, even the laws.

"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators." -- P. J. O'Rourke.

When people consider something valuable, that thing will be traded. Potatoes, oil, heroin, sex, shiny rocks, senators, whatever. That's not merely capitalism, it's basic human nature, on which capitalism rests. And it is by far those who dislike capitalism who push the hardest to make politicians valuable.

about 4 months ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

Dave Emami Hydrocarbons besides olefins? (256 comments)

What I'm wondering is, can they modify this process to produce edible hydrocarbons? Probably not something you'd enjoy eating, but the primary limitation on a nuclear submarine's endurance is the food supply for the crew.

about 4 months ago
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China Prosecuted Internet Policeman In Paid Deletion Cases

Dave Emami Re:The Odd Distort (26 comments)

Only three posts in and we're already doing the moral equivalence song and dance.

Yeah, the "tu quoque" fallacy is big around here.

It's really funny the way the Microsoft shills on here continually mod down their opponents

What alternate universe do you live in? Criticism of Microsoft on Slashdot is consistently and routinely modded +5.

However the hypocrisy and stupidity is still obvious and if we want to be able to suggest improvements to China perhaps we need to keep our own house in order.

Umm... no. If the US government does something bad, we should criticize it. If the Chinese government does something bad, we should criticize it. If the governments of Liechtenstein or Brunei or Tonga are doing bad things, we should criticize them. The important distinction here is "people being screwed over by their governments" vs. "governments doing the screwing-over", not "US" vs. "China" vs. etc. etc. If anything, the fact that the NSA is acting badly towards Americans should make Americans more sympathetic towards Chinese citizens getting similar, harsher treatment from their government.

about 5 months ago
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China Prosecuted Internet Policeman In Paid Deletion Cases

Dave Emami Re:Incomprehensible Headline (26 comments)

In fact, no mainstream party in an industrial or post-industrial state can be considered Maoist. The term only refers to peasant socialism/communism in pre-industrial societies.

Maoism is basically "there are more peasants than workers, so it should be 'peasants of the world, unite.' Oh and by the way, since I'm a Third World guy and most peasants are in the Third World, I should be the leading Marxist now that Stalin is gone. Screw you, Comrade Khrushchev."

about 5 months ago
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Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

Dave Emami Re:Tarzan need antecedent (824 comments)

Would you have been fine with it if he had donated money to a campaign to promote that belief?

I didn't say I was fine with his belief, I said that I wouldn't have wanted him to be fired because of it. Nor would I want him to be fired for donating to promote it.

What about if that donation had had your company name attached? Maybe not so much, because that's linking you and your employer to that belief. What about if his job was to be the public face of the company (i.e. the CEO)? Maybe even less, because now the company (and, indirectly, you) are endorsing those beliefs.

If he donated it in the company's name, that would be different, but to my understanding Eich made his donations in his own name, not in Mozilla's name. The contribution database merely notes that Mozilla was his employer at the time. So, for the equivalent question, if I were still at the same company as the coworker I mentioned, and he were promoted to CEO, I would not protest it. Nor would I protest if, as CEO, he continued to make such donations in his name. The important distinction is whether or not the views are being espoused by the person on his own, or by the company -- and I mean literally, officially in the company's name, not some vague "associated with the company because he works there in an important position" sort of thing.

Incidentally, I've been in the "leadership might do things I dislike" position, too. Back when I was part of the team of a startup whose CEO was a Scientologist, a coworker and I insisted that our contracts include clauses that the company not use "Hubbard Management Technology" (look it up, it's hilarious, sad, and offensive at the same time), and that if the company gave money to or bought anything from WISE (a Scientology business group) that it would have to make matching contributions to the EFF.

about 5 months ago
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Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

Dave Emami Re:Tarzan need antecedent (824 comments)

Would you say the same if he had given money to a group that supports the return of Jim Crow? What about if he gave to one of the groups that promote holocaust denial?

Well, I've worked with someone who denies the Holodomor (the Ukraine famine) and Stalin's other mass-murders, which are on par with the Holocaust. I would never have dreamed of suggesting he be fired for his views, and would have vocally defended him if someone else did -- and I'm about as anti-Communist as you can get.

about 5 months ago
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Russia Blocks Internet Sites of Putin Critics

Dave Emami Re:Until the NSA stops spying on America... (309 comments)

Until we stop living in a mass surviellence state, this all rings hollow.

The US (and the West in general) differs from Russia not in our inclination towards surveillance -- pretty much all governments do that -- but in the fact that it's controversial here.

You do know that it's possible to criticize bad things done by the US government, and criticize bad things done by other governments, right? Because your statement seems to indicate that you're unaware of this option.

Unlike Russia, we don't need to ban critics. We can just stalk and harrass them, until then ruin their lifes.

Tell that to Alexander Litvinenko, Viktor Yuschenko, Anna Politkovskaya, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Yuri Shchekochikhin, and many others.

about 5 months ago
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Russia Blocks Internet Sites of Putin Critics

Dave Emami Re:Go find another thread to whine in (309 comments)

There a topic that isn't about America? Well can't have that! Spin it to be about America! Redirect all topics to be on America, particularly whining about America!

What's ironic is that the folks who tend to do this, are just as likely to sneer that Americans don't care about anything happening outside the US.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What's New In Legacy Languages?

Dave Emami Re:C/C++ (247 comments)

This is more a reflection on your lack of knowledge than the state of the software industry as a whole. C/C++ is where you make the big bucks.

Yes and no, at least based on my recent job searching. Yes, the C++ jobs pay significantly more (at least where I was looking), but there are far, far more Java, .NET, PHP, and Javascript jobs. So, you'll make more money in a C++ job, if you can find one.

about 5 months ago
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How Good Are Charter Schools For the Public School System?

Dave Emami Re: Test scores (715 comments)

For the relatively SMALL subset of moderately intelligent students who are self organized AND self motivated AND who have living situations with enough stability and support to allow the student to thrive in an independent academic environment this is all that's needed.

For everyone else, not so much.

I can't speak to intelligence or living situations, but part of my point was that for most people, motivation depends on being interested in something. Back in Jr. High, I recall a clique of proto-stoners who never seemed to pay attention or do well (though they never outright flunked) in the regular classes, yet excelled in woodshop, far beyond anything I could do. (Shades of Brian vs. Bender from Breakfast Club here, I suppose). They were certainly self-motivated to do good carpentry. You do start to get into more-advanced math (by everyday standards, not engineering standards) once you get into more-advanced carpentry. Plus it gives reasons to delve into other subjects. Different woods are suitable for different things, and that goes back to the biology of the trees they come from. Wood treatments involve chemistry to understand fully. Etc.

What I'm getting at is that most students have things they're interested in, and those things provide hooks into wider and/or more-abstract knowledge which teachers can steer their students towards. Yes, that doesn't always mesh with our current Prussian-era education model, but to me that just underscores the current model's shortcomings.

about 7 months ago
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How Good Are Charter Schools For the Public School System?

Dave Emami Re: Test scores (715 comments)

Military history may not be something that one finds on a standardized test, but it has made us what we are, culturally, and learning causes and effects can teach a lot of other items, be it meteorology, geology, astronomy, logistics, or math (it takes both accounting as well as more advanced forms of math to get food and booze to all troops on a battlefield.)

Trivia: Something like this is actually a plot point for one of the characters (Randy Waterhouse) in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. His first major big program is one that calculates calories supplied by various foodstuffs versus the time taken and calories burned acquiring them, to be used for running RPGs.

about 7 months ago
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How Good Are Charter Schools For the Public School System?

Dave Emami Re: Test scores (715 comments)

Everyone has a passion even kids ! How bout we foster their passions and let them grow with their passion !

That matches my personal experience, actually. For example, I learned most of my core trigonometry well before I ran into it in school, because I wanted to write space combat games, and trig is how you answer questions like "my ship is at this position facing this direction, the target is at that position, what angle is it at relative to straight ahead?" Learned most of my Newtonian physics the same way. I learned a fair amount of biology, geology, meteorology, and other things when doing research GM'ing tabletop RPGs. And I know several people who learned things like HTML5 and CSS because they wanted to make nicer websites.

Granted, the basics like spelling and arithmetic probably need to be taught for their own sake. But past a certain point, I find that people learn something more effectively when they're learning it it accomplish a goal they care about. Certainly they're better motivated in those cases.

about 7 months ago
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Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

Dave Emami We are our own culture (612 comments)

"Cultural design tools encourage students to artistically express computing design concepts from Latino/a, African American, or Native American history as well as cultural activities in dance, skateboarding, graffiti art, and more."

This is purest drivel. A culture is a set of shared behaviors, interests, and values that cause people to cluster together, or derive from them being so. Geekdom, hackerdom, tech, or whatever you want to call it is its own culture. It may be predominantly white male, but it is not the same thing as white male culture at large. If it was, we'd be more interested in football and reality TV and less interested in roleplaying games and Star Trek. Not to say that no geeks like the former and that all like the latter, but the percentages are very very different from mainstream. We have our own slang, places we tend to hang out (especially if you consider online "places"), entertainment interests, people we admire, people we hate, things we like to talk about, and so forth.

In fact, the very idea that someone's ethnicity defines their culture is itself racist. When I hang out with my black, Chinese, and Indian coworkers, we all have common ground due to us sharing the tech culture, rather than being pigeonholed into the cultures we were born in, staying there, and having to overcome barriers when we want to interact.

about 8 months ago
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Why Engineers Must Consider the Ethical Implications of Their Work

Dave Emami The given analogy isn't usually valid (406 comments)

While the analogy does apply sometimes, when technology is being used to do evil, the software/hardware engineer usually isn't in a role equivalent to a doctor torturing a patient. The engineer isn't the one acting upon the person being done evil to. More typically, since most tech has a wide variety of uses, the engineer's role is much more akin to a developer of medical devices. A syringe can just as easily be used to inject antibiotics or cyanide, and it would be silly to claim that the person designing the syringes is morally responsible for how the things get used. Consider the case of Saeed Malekpour, who wrote some code for uploading images, and is in jail in Iran (and was almost executed) because that code got used on a porn site. (No, not claiming that porn sites are evil or anything like that, it was just the first "syringe maker will never know what gets injected" example that I thought of).

about 9 months ago
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Norway's Army Battles Global Warming By Going Vegetarian

Dave Emami But... but... (495 comments)

How will the troops live without lutefisk?

about 9 months ago
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Norway's Army Battles Global Warming By Going Vegetarian

Dave Emami Re:Kardashev scale (495 comments)

Personally, I would rather current research focus more on solar, wind, tidal, geothermal -- rather than to continue to rely nuclear power.

The problem with all of those is that there are a limited number of locales where they can work well, and all of them except for geothermal are transient. That means power storage, which means batteries, which means toxic chemical waste. It may or may not be as dangerous on a per-volume basis as nuclear waste (someone more knowledgeable than me would have to answer that), but there would certainly be a hell of a lot more of it.

about 9 months ago
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Drone-Mounted Laser Weapons Are On the Way

Dave Emami "Phenomenology of laser-target interactions"? (116 comments)

I presume they mean the Holtzman Effect.

Jessica focused her mind on lasguns, wondering. The white-hot beams of disruptive light could cut through any known substance, provided that substance was not shielded. The fact that feedback from a shield would explode both lasgun and shield did not bother the Harkonnens. Why? A lasgun-shield explosion was a dangerous variable, could be more powerful than atomics, could kill only the gunner and his shielded target.

about 10 months ago

Submissions

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MoveOn.org removes "General Betray Us" ad

Dave Emami Dave Emami writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Dave Emami (237460) writes "After President Obama's appointment of General Petraeus' to replace General McChrystal as commander of US forces in Afghanistan, MoveOn.org has quietly dropped the online copy of their "General Betray Us" ad into the memory hole, apparently forgetting about such things as Google cache and Archive.org. The ad originally ran as a full-page spread in the New York Times"
Link to Original Source
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GW Bush hosts Intl. Cyber Dissident Conference

Dave Emami Dave Emami writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Dave Emami (237460) writes "On Monday, the George W. Bush institute hosted a Conference on Cyber Dissidents, with the former president giving opening remarks, along with presentations by dissidents from seven nations. Other speakers included Ethan Zuckerman, founder of Geekcorps, Hal Roberts of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Christopher Walker of Freedome House. "The Conference's two goals were to bring dissidents together to share best practices and learn from one another, and to learn ourselves what we in America and other democracies can do to aid the work of dissidents – in particular, to help them protect and enhance their high-tech tools and counter the technological counter-assaults from government and terror groups.""
Link to Original Source

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