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IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

Frobnicator Re:The US needs a constitution (575 comments)

Why do you let your politicians get away with such bullshit?

You are mistaken if you think the people still (if ever) control the government.

yesterday
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Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

Frobnicator Re:i pledge to you... (719 comments)

there is at least 1 state where if you are not disabled YOU MUST HAVE ENOUGH INCOME TO BUY INSURANCE.

I'm in that boat after a layoff.

I have earned too much through occasional side contract work that I don't qualify for temporary assistance. (claim denied, appeal denied, since picking up side jobs in the past turns me into a contract worker somehow despite my main job.) I cannot afford the rates they offer on permanent insurance. Meanwhile job hunting is not going to well.

So I can go for COBRA for $3500 per month, or pay for a 'cheap' plan at $650 per month and $5000 deductible.

When my income is $0 per month, requiring me to pay $650 per month is too much.

5 days ago
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Hewlett-Packard Admits To International Bribery and Money Laundering Schemes

Frobnicator Re:In most of the world... (139 comments)

You're not building an office building without bribes.

Actually, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act takes that into account.

They can pay people when it is made to an official to expedite his performance of the duties he is already bound to perform.

Walmart almost got in trouble for that a few years back for building permits, but since they claimed the buildings would eventually be built anyway rather than swaying from a yes/no position, everything went away.

This wasn't a normal "grease payment". A grease payment for a building permit is more like how you might tip your waiter after a meal; it isn't mandatory but is customary for continued good service in some parts of the world. The article describes things like flying government reps to the US for vacations and tourism, money laundering, and frequent deliveries of big bags of cash.

5 days ago
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Hewlett-Packard Admits To International Bribery and Money Laundering Schemes

Frobnicator Re:And no charges will be filed (139 comments)

So what? If the people charged with a crime ever go to Poland, this might actually mean something.

In the article (yeah, who bothers with that) you will note that it was several of the regional executives who were fired for bribes. They are not meaning the CEO level.

So yes, it is quite likely that some of those regional executives do live in the affected countries, and it will definitely mean something as they no longer have corporate ties to fund their defense.

5 days ago
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U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Rule On Constitutionality of Bulk Surveillance

Frobnicator Re:Go back & get the stay lifted (141 comments)

That is what the judge wrote in his order. The court order makes for some intense reading compared to most rulings.

The last paragraph in his order is about as strict as he could word it: I hereby give the Government fair notice that should my ruling be upheld, this order will go into effect forthwith. Accordingly, I fully expect that during the appellate process, which will consume at least the next six months, the Government will take whatever steps necessary to comply with this order when, and if, it is upheld. Suffice it to say, requesting further time to comply with this order months from now will not be well received and could result in collateral sanctions. /Signed/ RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.

If he removed the stay he would need to allow the government time to implement the changes. This way the clock is already ticking.

about a week ago
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U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Rule On Constitutionality of Bulk Surveillance

Frobnicator Re:Constitutional Court (141 comments)

That is one of the few mistakes our founders made. Allowing the court to ignore cases.

Obviously you didn't read the article, nor understand the summary.

The court did not ignore the case. There is a procedure. It starts at the circuit court. Then it goes through the appeals court, usually first with panel of 3, then the full appeals court. The SCOTUS is the final level of appeals.

The process works as a vetting and refining system. The SCOTUS only gets involved in situations where different appeals courts have used differing standards or when there are certain controversial or seemingly contradictory situations. The district judge wanted to get around the procedures. It is very rarely successful except in cases where urgency is required and the implications are severe, such as the 'hanging chads' controversy. The court disagreed, wanting the case to go through the normal process.

As with every issue that is a political hot topic, the SCOTUS will tend to wait to give congress a chance to address this before ruling. Often when Congress amends the law while a case is in progress, the appeal will simply remand it back to the district court with an order to follow the revised law rather than the old law.

As of now, in the DC court, his initial ruling (that the bulk collection is unconstitutional) still stands, even though he put in a stay (delay before carrying out the order) in order to allow for appeals. If he felt so strongly he could have not accepted the stay, which would mean the government would need to implement the order immediately and the feds would have needed to petition for an emergency stay from a higher court.

Right now the ruling is that the collection is unlawful. With the appeal denied so far, that decision stands. That is what we want, so don't complain about it.

about a week ago
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Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

Frobnicator Re:It was a big mistake (469 comments)

...not to include a couple of clunkers in the test; the sort of violins the average student may possess at high school.

Why? They can be dismissed out of hand. Not a professional by any means, but almost a decade of lessons during childhood. The difference between a "clunker" and a quality instrument is instantly obvious to the player.

There are the differences in construction and the parts. I have seen student violins pop their glued seams. I have heard the wood creak as they are handled and placed in position, as pressure from the bow is applied. Cheap fingerboards tend to vibrate uncomfortably. I went a few times to a violin shop and just played around on the various instruments. I was young enough that I didn't care about cost, just went around playing them. Violins in one area felt like fingernails on a chalkboard and sounded similar. I found part of the shop with a stash of violins that felt like silk and had beautiful tone, and after falling in love with several of them was gently told that those were far outside hat we could afford.

If I could tell that kind of difference as a non-professional youth, I cannot imagine a professional picking up a squeaky, creaky 'violin shaped object' as they are called, and confusing it for a well-made instrument.

about a week ago
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Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting

Frobnicator Re:DynDNS and a real NAS (127 comments)

Cut out the middleman and no downtime from corporate ineptitude.

Great. Explain to your technically illiterate parents, friends and neighbors how to implement DynDNS, how to poke holes in their firewall, and how to implement a web-based TLS-using file server.

The point of these devices is that a lay person can plug it in to their home network, put in a username and password, then access their 4TB drive anywhere on the world.

I've got one, I've got a 2TB collection of data that I regularly syphon files from when I am traveling. It is easy and works great, I don't need to leave a PC running (draining my wallet through the power company) to access all the data since it is a low-power device. It is as fast as my internet speed and costs nothing for the service.

about two weeks ago
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Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting

Frobnicator Re:HDD != Cloud (127 comments)

Choose your vendor carefully. HDD manufacturers are probably not good at cloud services.

You obviously don't know what the MyCloud service is.

Basically it does the same job of Dynamic DNS and NAT traversal, but just for your network drive. You attach your drive to your home network --- up to 4TB in size --- provide a username and password, and you're done. You log in to their wd2go site and have full access to your 4TB drive. It saves the hassle of trying to fight constantly rolling IP addresses, trying to open ports and map them to devices, and do all the other technical stuff.

Hence the name. "My Cloud". Not "Google's Cloud", or "Amazon's Cloud" or "Drop Box's Cloud", it is a cheap and easy way to get your mass storage online.

about two weeks ago
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Software Upgrade At 655 Million Kilometers

Frobnicator Re:Remember when.... (57 comments)

To be fair, many probes have done this type of thing.

The Voyager probes had software updates regularly in their prime, and it frequently made news back in the day. When approaching a planet or interesting object they would upload imaging software, when finished they would upload different sensor programs. About a decade ago (2003?) there were news stories about how they reprogrammed one of the probes to help detect the crossover to deep space.

It is certainly interesting and poses some risk of breaking the probe, but it is standard procedure and something the probes are designed for.

about two weeks ago
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Minnesota Teen Wins Settlement After School Takes Facebook Password

Frobnicator Re:Without her permission? (367 comments)

For the measly $70K, I think I might have continued fighting it through to an actual judgement. That won't even begin to cover their costs to date, nor will it cover the costs of home-schooling for six years. In addition to suing the district, I'd be suing the school administrator personally, and be suing the officer personally for criminal acts done under color of law.

Actually $70 probably could cover the cost or just nearly so for a private school where she will get a better education than what the public schools had to offer anyway. Had she kept fighting it might not have gone her way. I would have countered probably with "I'll go away for 70K + legal fees to date" but I would have wanted to settle too; a bird in the hand is worth two in bush.

Usually when you "win" a case through that kind of settlement they don't pay your legal fees, just the one lump sum. In fact, I'm a little surprised the number was released, usually the whole thing is private. It is possible that somebody leaking the dollar value may have automatically ruined the settlement, but I hope not. This has been two years in the making, so I'm pretty sure those legal bills are going to be rather substantial.

You might be right, maybe it was $70K plus all costs, we don't have the terms of the settlement.

As for the cost of schooling, I would look at the cost of private schools to see an equivalency rather than home schooling. A few minutes on Google shows that around here the going rate is about $18,000 for grades 5-7, and about $21,000 for 8-12, so about $141K for tuition alone. Maybe schools are cheaper in their area.

about three weeks ago
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Minnesota Teen Wins Settlement After School Takes Facebook Password

Frobnicator Re:Without her permission? (367 comments)

The summary said she gave them her password. That sounds like permission.

No, she refused. Then they called the cops. The police officer and administrator together threatened her, and eventually (in tears) she gave in. Note the age of the child.

As she was not even a teenager at the time, that looks to me like very strong compulsion from authority figures. A normal pre-teen is not going to say "you cannot do this, it violates my rights, let me talk to my parents and a lawyer." Under this kind of pressure they'll believe the officer will throw her in jail forever, and break down.

For the measly $70K, I think I might have continued fighting it through to an actual judgement. That won't even begin to cover their costs to date, nor will it cover the costs of home-schooling for six years. In addition to suing the district, I'd be suing the school administrator personally, and be suing the officer personally for criminal acts done under color of law.

about three weeks ago
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Minnesota Teen Wins Settlement After School Takes Facebook Password

Frobnicator Re:Not trying to steer the car this car off the ro (367 comments)

But what were these these "disparaging" comments exactly?

Probably something like "These administrators are total fascists."

Look at the districts reply: We searched her cell phone without permission. We won't do that again. Now we have a standard form requiring permission that all students must sign. WTF?! The problem was not a lack of parental signature. The problem was a flagrant abuse of rights, which apparently they are happy to continue.

about three weeks ago
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Xbox One Reputation System Penalizes Gamers Who Behave Badly

Frobnicator Re:OMG FAG LOL (183 comments)

The system is not about cheating. The system is primarily about profanity and abuse.

They have been tinkering with it since it came out.

Also they haven't released what specific metrics they are using, but they have already mentioned factors: account playing statistics, complaints per hour played, positive feedback messages, friend requests, negative feedback messages, "Avoid This Player" marks, gamercard mutes, gamercard blocked communications, and filed complaints and reports. Couple all of them together and you will likely see some patterns quickly. They also mention that it will have human involvement and you will not be dinged for being skilled, nor will you be dinged for people targeting you. The last two seem to imply some human involvement.

My guess is that they start with simple statistical analysis to identify players trending downward with a steady stream of "block communications", "avoid this player", and "mute" flags. All of these are specifically mentioned on their site. After algorithmic identification, I'm guessing one of their army of community managers (real live human beings who are employed to listen to the vitriol and enforce the rules) would probably get a notice to monitor the chat when the player starts play. If they hear a profanity stream click the check box marked "profanity". If they hear taunting, harassment, or other abuse, pick the check box that corresponds. With a real live human involved they can nicely handle people who were wrongly accused.

about three weeks ago
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Operation Wants To Mine 10% of All New Bitcoins

Frobnicator Re:Fantastic ROI (275 comments)

That's why his plan is to covert it all to bars of Xanax.

Stockpiling a prescription anti-anxiety drug?

Unless he is planning on some massive illegal drug parties or become a dealer of some sort I don't see how that would be a good investment.

about three weeks ago
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Small World Discovered Far Beyond Pluto

Frobnicator Re:Dwarf-like? (63 comments)

Not really news.

When Eris, MakeMake and Sedna were accepted in the IAU's list they already had about 50 more 'probable dwarf planets' inside the Kuiper belt. The following year the list of 'probable dwarf planets' grew to nearly 400.

The estimated number is about 10,000 dwarf planets in our solar system. Hopefully we won't have big news announcements for each one. But hey, slow news days need something...

about three weeks ago
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What Fire and Leakage At WIPP Means For Nuclear Waste Disposal

Frobnicator Re:Oopsie! (154 comments)

The problem is you need an organization that will care for the stuff for longer than than the recorded history of humanity.

We keep creating all this waste that we have no way to actually dispose of.

We can treat it, put it in a concrete cask, and store the casks somewhere, but we have no ways to actually dispose of it other than to wait for millions of years.

Nuclear waste is the most immediately dangerous after we create it. Highly toxic, easily misused, easily stolen and repurposed. (Not all nuclear waste is equal, most of it is fairly benign such as medical and industrial waste. Those little green "exit" signs will eventually classify as nuclear waste.) The really dangerous stuff, like the spent nuclear reactor fuel, we have no way to deal with. But as bad as it is, at least the planet can probably eventually filter through the stuff.

Plastic is less immediately toxic but we also have no way to realistically dispose of it. It doesn't biodegrade. We are ending up with sites like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that continue to grow.

Sadly we keep making more and more trash that we cannot dispose of. Like most of humanity's history we care more about our immediate survival and our immediate convenience than the long-term survival and long-term convenience.

about three weeks ago
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What Fire and Leakage At WIPP Means For Nuclear Waste Disposal

Frobnicator Re:Fucking NIMBYs (154 comments)

Desert? yes. Worthless? No.

Deserts are usually less exploitable by humans, but they are extremely valuable to the planet. Through sorry experience we have learned that desert ecosystems are easily damaged. Vehicles driving across the surface can crack and break the crust of micro-organisms ("desert pavement") where the damage can last for centuries.

The thought process of "Humans cannot immediately exploit the resources, therefore it is worthless" is extremely foolish.

Just look at what humans have done to resources we consider valuable. Deforestation of entire contents, fishing out oceans to possibly the point of exhaustion. Desert regions are one of the few resources left mostly intact from human destruction.

about three weeks ago
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Turkish Finance Minister Defends Twitter Ban

Frobnicator Re:Above the law (94 comments)

Several countries have attempted to ban YouTube, Twitter, and similar sites. Most end up removing the ban within days. Some remove it within months.

Turkey is one of the countries that maintained a ban longer than most countries, with the YouTube ban lasting about 29 months. Wikipedia says that even with the ban, it was reported as Turkey's 8th most popular web site while DNS blocks were in place and government officials (including the prime minister and president, both the same people in power today) publicly discussed that they continued to use the banned site. Quite a few other web sites are banned as well, yet they still have a strong Turkish user base.

Turkey has a history of banning the interwebz through DNS blocks, and the people know how to get around it easily.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Re-Learning How To Interview As a Developer?

Frobnicator Re:Maybe it's not you (218 comments)

Also, adding up the years, seems like the OP might be approaching the magical years of age discrimination in software development. Five years here, three there, two years at several places... puts the OP at around age 35-40.

So the solution: Be younger.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

Frobnicator hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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From an article about the degradation of the Internet

Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 10 years ago

You sell a simpler box where security is the primary factor. A lot of grandmas and older people might go for something that only does AOL, mail, web browsing and maybe printing and digital photos.

That might solve part of the problem (consumer side) but not the issue that the article was about. It does not solve the real issue.

Making a grandma-friendly, secure, e-mail and download-only box would not do what the article suggests is happening. It might keep grandma from getting infected with the latest worm, but she will still get progressively less useful bandwidth from her modem. Grandma might have a 256Kbps DSL modem. She might even be fairly lucky and after dropping the malformed packets and garbage already out there, get a 200Kbps rate right now. But next year it might be 150Kbps, then 100Kbps as a few million script-kiddies are scanning for the next generation of BackOrafice trojans. Then she'll go buy a faster connection, because her Internet connection is slower than she wants. Her new connection will give her more visible speed, but would still be dropping a majority of the packets.

I've seen the issue first hand. I'm with a small business, where we have a shared T1 line. Our upstream provider performs some packet filtering, but not much. After we pay for the data through our T1, we filter it. We drop malformed packets, packets from reserved and unassigned addresses, source-routed packets, and so on. We detect and block portscans and other obvious attacks at that point as well. We average a 7-10% packet loss through that filter daily. Next, we run SpamAssassin at a high filter level (15) along with attachment and virus blocking of emails, which collectively drop thousands of e-mail messages daily. Additionally our computers are running ad-filtering programs that save us a lot of bandwidth, but ads still slip through.

If we were to assume that all the ads also got through, that is about 20-25% of our bandwidth wasted in complete junk, and that percentage has been increasing for the past two years that I have been watching it. Next we have a bunch of legitimate, but unwanted, traffic. That includes file sharing and trojan ports, incoming http, mail, telnet, DNS, ftp, rpc, and other assorted ports. We get a few hundred of these each day, and the number is always growing. Some might be people in the company trying to use NetMeeting or something, even though it is against policy. Some may be legitimate errors, while the remaining others are probably probing for systems to attack.

The article says that the problem is this growing collection of junk -- currently about a quarter of our bandwidth -- which will quickly kill the Internet unless there is a change.

Unfortunately, I agree with the author of the article; unless we see some fundamental changes, it will become unusable. There are a number of good ideas already out there as to what that may be.

One idea that I like is to remove the anonymity of end-to-end, while preserving the end-to-end functionality. Every handler of every packet signs the packet, and drops packets from sources they do not trust or with invalid signatures. The sender cannot deny sending the message, each handler signs the packets and cannot deny that they handled it, each handler can state that they directly know who they received it from, and that all end-points can verify the sources. That allows any message not properly signed and not properly addressed to be dropped, and allow for law enforcement or system admins to find out who the attackers are, or exactly which machines have been compromised.

The only significant drawbacks to that system are the resources involved in all the digital signatures and the loss of anonymity. I can only see a few reasons for anonymous speech (whistle-blowers, victims of crime, etc.) but there are other anonymous outlets for them. Online, I think non-repudiation should be built in, so long as you have encryption tools available. Your boss/government/police/mafia could know that you said something, but not know what it was.

Until that level of fundamental infrastructure change spreads across the Internet, making a grandma-friendly Internet console isn't enough. The DDoS attacks on everything from spam blacklists, litigous companies like RIAA and SCO, honest mistakes like U. Wisconson's time servers, and script-kiddie behavior will continue to degrade the Internet. The spammers clogging up mailboxes and usenet will degrade the Internet. Tomorrows worms, along with todays worms on unpached systems, will continue to degrade the Internet. More people with cable-modems downloading movies will degrade Internet performance. In short, continuing our course will be just a little worse until we hit a very-near critical threshold. Then our performance will be like a figher jet slamming into a wall of jello. We need to change course, or face some serious performance losses.

frob

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Musings about a Corpus of Truth

Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 10 years ago This is just some ramblings based on views.

I've had a problem with the corpus of facts that people are willing to allow in their arguments lately. These in turn lead to stupid arguments, that lead to my compliants. So here are the complaints.

The first is:

Mankind has been wrong about science for all of recorded history, why are some people assuming that the newest theory is the absolute, final, last word?

Science is a progressive refinement of ideas. There was a time when the public believed that that maggots came from rotting meat and that frogs came from mud around lakes and streams or that they came from rain. Given the corpus of facts that they could work with, those were perfect, scientific beliefs.

The corpus of truth, or the accepted facts at that time [through Europe, at least] included only what could be viewed by the naked eye, and what was accepted by the Church. Since the Church probably didn't have much to say about maggots and rotting meat, it was a simple observation that (1) you had rotting meat, (2) maggots appeard, therefore maggots came from rotting meat. Similarly, (1) While at a pond there were no frogs, (2) It started raining, (3) the area got muddy, (4) frogs appeared. Sure, modern science has pretty much cleared up the origin of maggots and frogs, but it doesn't stop there.

Newtonian physics was around for quite some time, and they have been succeeded by similar equations based on Relativity. These are being further refined today. But these refined models will probably be succeeded in a few decades by yet another model that more accurately describes the Universe, and our current views will be considered 'Wrong'. But that won't mean that Newtonian models will suddenly stop working, or that the Einstienien models will stop working, just that there are more accurate models that can be used.

The point is that our current scientific views should never be taken as the absolute fact of the thing, but just as another iteration that is better than what was there before. Each of these 'facts' is added to our corpus of truth, which helps us better understand the things around us.

This leads to my second complaint,

Some people claim "Religion cannot be demonstrated by Science". That is a stupid argument.

This comes back to the corpus of truth. What are you willing to give me in my corpus? If you give me only the things I can observe with my naked eye and bare hands, I'll prove that maggots come from rotting meat and frogs come from either rain or mud. But with only my bare hands and my naked eyes, I cannot prove cellular theory, or astronomy, or even how reproduction works. If you give me only what can be observed with the naked eye and manipulated with bare hands, it becomes difficult to prove religion.

If you take one simple thing from a mathematician's corpus of truth, let's say the definition of equality or the definitions of addition and subtraction, they will lose all ability to operate. Sure, it is possible to prove addition and subtraction with advanced math, but that math cannot be proven without addition and subtraction. Similarly, if I require proof that a number is always equal to itself, but I refuse to allow any definition of equality, I can destroy all of mathematics.

The point here is that all science is based on postulates. Things that cannot be proven for whatever reason but are accepted as fact anyway. For most people, things that can be directly observed are postulates -- you cannot prove that what you saw is actually what happened, or even that you observed it, but you accept that it is what you observed, and that it is correct.

If you give just enough postulates, those can be expanded to a corpus of truth that can demonstrate the existance of a higher power.

Finally, there are the people who never accept into their corpus of truth anything that contradicts their world-view.

These are the people I most feel sorry for. Yes, there are many things out there that I may disagree with, but I am willing to accept as a theory into my corpus of truth. I may not accept it as a fact, but at the least, I will accept that you accept it. But as is the way with science, contradictions in your corpus of truth must be resolved, or at least marked as 'further research required' before being accepted as fact. When enough evidence is collected to resolve the things to fact, Science is content.

So to the people who assert that Aliens are near Earth, that Alien UFO's abduct people and return them after performing whatever experiments they had in mind, I look at the body of observations that counter them. Air traffic controllers around the world would likely detect such a vessel. Millitaries and governments would quite likely have seen them. Their motion would be seen by astronomers of all kinds, those paid for by governments, by corporations, and by schools, the students and private researchers, and arm-chair scientists. Anything trying to cover it up would be improbable (not impossible).

Of course, I DO beleve in UFO's. They are simply that -- unidentified flying objects. Individuals cannot identify them. Governments deny them, and often for good reason. Many people saw classified aircraft and the governments denied their existance until they unveiled them publically. These were UFO's. Many people have been exposed to (in many cases illigal) radition tests or toxicity tests or other experiments that governments have denied, only to admit to decades later. Yet other things are not easily explained by governments, but by bizzare acts of nature. Lakes turn over, and can even explode. Mists of a dense fog, carbon dioxide, can form naturally and flood towns with death.

While these things may not be easily explained, theories can be developed, and they can be enterered into the Corpus of Truth, to be later accepted or denied.

But now I have looked at my watch, and looked at the time. I don't want to accept the consequences that my Corpus of Truth says I will likely face if I spend more time on this article, so I am finished now.

frob

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Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 11 years ago This is here so I have a journal entry.

For anyone interested, the nick "Frobnicator" is a derivative of "frobnicate", which I haven't heard before. I started using the nick in 2000. I take it to mean 'one who frobnicates'. Here is the dictionary.com definition:

Frobnicate

/frob'ni-kayt/ (Possibly from frobnitz, and usually abbreviated to frob, but "frobnicate" is recognised as the official full form). To manipulate or adjust, to tweak. One frequently frobs bits or other 2-state devices. Thus: "Please frob the light switch" (that is, flip it), but also "Stop frobbing that clasp; you'll break it". One also sees the construction "to frob a frob".

Usage: frob, twiddle, and tweak sometimes connote points along a continuum. "Frob" connotes aimless manipulation; "twiddle" connotes gross manipulation, often a coarse search for a proper setting; "tweak" connotes fine-tuning. If someone is turning a knob on an oscilloscope, then if he's carefully adjusting it, he is probably tweaking it; if he is just turning it but looking at the screen, he is probably twiddling it; but if he's just doing it because turning a knob is fun, he's frobbing it. The variant "frobnosticate" has also been reported.

Between '95 and 2000 I used the nick "Ixion" based on the Greek mythological king who did some pretty nasty things, incluing try to bed a god, and was punished.

Before that I went by "Zug", which I got from my older brother, but had to stop when Warcraft II came out and used "Zugzug" as a quote from one of their characters.

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