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Comments

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Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End?

Garrett Fox Stop or Go? (365 comments)

It's underwhelming to slowly, ambiguously plan for maybe going to an unspecified asteroid someday. There won't be much excitement from the general public for such a plan, especially with the way it's been marketed so far. Say "in 10 years we'll have people on the way to Mars [or to a lesser extent, the Moon] to build a permanent base" and it becomes a different story.

We're in a budget crisis right now though, with fundamental moral, legal and philosophical disputes over the proper role of the US government. We already have a majority of the states openly challenging federal authority, and the federal government openly scoffing at the idea that there are limits to its lawful power. (Pelosi: "Are you serious?!") It's hard to justify any new government programs while that dispute is unresolved, even as relatively small as the funding would be. Figure out first whether it's okay to have a self-proclaimed "radical communist" serving as a White House adviser, for instance, before deciding relatively minor things like whether to increase one agency's funding. Otherwise we'll just be arguing past each other from completely different premises.

I'm definitely not taking the common position, "Let's solve our problems on Earth before we go to space." This is more like, "Let's figure out what we're trying to accomplish before we set out."

more than 3 years ago
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Australia's 2 Largest ISP's Start Censorsing the Web

Garrett Fox The Doctrine of Fascism (133 comments)

Check out the essay "The Doctrine of Fascism", attributed to him. Its roots are really in the philosophy of Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel, and even Plato. Mussolini's main idea was that fascism is anti-individualist, and that all people should see themselves as incomplete beings whose lives only have meaning and value in service to the all-powerful State. That's not really a corporatist viewpoint. Re: Net censorship, a fascist viewpoint would be that your individual desire to see porn, bomb-making instructions, copyrighted material, or sites about democracy is absolutely meaningless before the State's collective desire to shut you up and make you obey. Not to say that the ISPs are innocent here, but it's not because they own the government.

more than 3 years ago
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New Gasoline Engine Prototype Claims 3X Current Engine Efficiency

Garrett Fox Efficiency (377 comments)

Expansion on the parent comment: any claim about "tripling the efficiency of current engines" ought to set off alarm bells, because there are strict theoretical limits on the efficiency of any engine. Yes, switching to a different basic design (such as Diesel vs. the more common Otto cycle) can give you a better possible rating, as can changing the temperatures involved, but you're still likely to hit theoretical limits that are far below what you might think of as "perfect efficiency", ie. pure conversion of the fuel's chemical energy into motion.

more than 3 years ago
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The Right's War On Net Neutrality

Garrett Fox Mod Article "Troll" (945 comments)

The entire article is a troll's post. "The Republicans are lying, they're badly misinformed, and we the enlightened have the correct answer and must re-educate them." Then the commenters jump on and say, "Why yes! I understand the Republican position -- it's because they're anarchists who love anything done by a big corporation, and it's on this basis that I judge everything they say!" If you want to have a serious debate about Net neutrality, this kind of article isn't the way to do it. Then again, the actual politicians these days have been dismissing the ruling party's critics as stupid, ignorant, and irrational -- in nearly that exact language -- so it's no surprise that their supporters would also talk that way.

more than 3 years ago
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Survey Shows That Fox News Makes You Less Informed

Garrett Fox Plusgood Groupthink! (1352 comments)

Survey-makers, your groupthink is plusgood! Having already decided that Fox News is a terrible thing (and that that's why people watch it more than rival networks), you made the double error of asking rigged questions and then inferring a cause-and-effect relationship. Good job at reinforcing your own beliefs.

"63 percent of Fox viewers believe Obama was not born in the US (or that it is unclear)." And having decided that there's absolutely no ambiguity (perhaps you've seen the original, more-closely-guarded-than-military-secrets BC rather than the summary?), you decided that anyone who questions the official story is "uninformed". You could probably do the same thing with global warming too, or the assertion that the Constitution's "commerce clause" means Congress can force people to buy things. In other words, your ideal citizen doesn't question the official story of things.

Think that this study will be used to push for forcible shutting down of this opposition network, Chavez-style, as various people on the socialist left have actually grumbled about? Or just used for traditional media to console themselves with?

more than 3 years ago
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Hand-Off, Reconnect To Verizon LTE Can Take 2 Minutes

Garrett Fox Wireless Modem Problems (53 comments)

I don't think wireless modem problems in general should surprise anyone. I'm using a Verizon USB device right now, and while it usually works all right, it has random weird misbehavior like claiming to be connected yet being unable to do anything, or claiming an "invalid username and password" when no new user info has been entered. Probably just standard hardware quirkiness.

more than 3 years ago
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China Views Internet As "Controllable"

Garrett Fox Re:so... (185 comments)

So, you draw no distinction between trying to shut down a site that exists to engage in illegal international espionage, and trying to shut down a site that (say) describes what happened at Tiananmen Square?

more than 3 years ago
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Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) Makes a First Appearance

Garrett Fox Unity (179 comments)

I've got an eeePC netbook with WinXP, and am not impressed by this Unity interface being offered. The description of it looks like Ubuntu's trying to be as much like Apple as possible. "We made the desktop look like someone spilled colorful pills all over it and hid everything but your favorite "apps", which we want you to get from our walled garden. We put everything into a "Me Menu" which you probably can't even rename, and you can, like, totally use Twitter and Facebook because everybody who's anybody uses those."

I might try the Aurora version if it ever actually comes out. Since I'd be investigating Ubuntu without a strong reason to do so, I'd need some hand-holding to avoid exhausting my patience. Haven't yet seen an edition that has a big default button saying "click here for a tutorial about where everything is and how to do stuff". And is there a way to dual-install in such a way that I don't need to wait an extra beat or use a menu when turning the computer on, to pick an OS?

more than 3 years ago
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US Embassy Categorizes Beijing Air Quality As 'Crazy Bad'

Garrett Fox You have us confused... (270 comments)

No, you have libertarians and conservatives confused with anarchists. That's typical talk from the socialist/communist faction: "When you guys talk about enforcing the Constitution that means you guys don't want any government at all!"

more than 3 years ago
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New Microscope Reveals Ultrastructure of Cells

Garrett Fox Opt-Out? (58 comments)

What about the cells that opt out of this intrusive screening?

more than 3 years ago
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TSA Pats Down 3-Year-Old

Garrett Fox Re:I wonder... (1135 comments)

You're aware that the Democrats are now in office, and extended the USA-PATRIOT Act, and in fact are the ones behind the new obnoxious security that this article is about, right?

more than 3 years ago
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Chip Allows Blind People To See

Garrett Fox Game Boy Resolution (231 comments)

For comparison, the original Game Boy had a screen resolution of 160x144 in four greenish shades. Still, even 38x40 is an improvement over past retina chips and starts to be useful. I wonder what aspect ratio these things will end up with.

more than 3 years ago
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Physicists Say Graphene Could Create Mass

Garrett Fox Okay Then... (184 comments)

"Squishing"!

more than 3 years ago
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How Google Avoided Paying $60 Billion In Taxes

Garrett Fox Insightful? Really? (1193 comments)

Actually, the bottom half or so of the US population pays no federal income taxes, and the top 1%, 5% etc. pays a hugely disproportionate share. Want to see the guys dodging taxes relative to the amount of money they make? It's huge corporations like Google that give loads of money to the Democratic Party, as Google did.

more than 3 years ago
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Firefighters Let House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay Fee

Garrett Fox Re:Nope, not kidding. (2058 comments)

I'd rather live there than in the countries that've done the most thorough job of implementing socialism/communism; wouldn't you? Those crazy libertarians you snicker at don't massacre their own people or need to build a wall to keep their citizens from escaping.

more than 3 years ago
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Firefighters Let House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay Fee

Garrett Fox Re:You're kidding, right? (2058 comments)

That's true, this is like the health care debate. In this case, someone chose not to buy the service, and the public outcry will be, "That's terrible! No one should have that choice!" Also, note that the fire victim was surprised that the FD wouldn't take his $75 while the fire was in progress. If it were health care he needed, he'd complain that his house being currently on fire is a "pre-existing condition" and that an insurer should be legally forced to insure him the moment he feels like paying.

The comparison to national health care doesn't quite fit though, because the question there is whether the US federal government has lawful authority under the Constitution to order people to buy things. It definitely does not, if the Constitution is still a meaningful limit on federal power.

more than 3 years ago
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Neurosurgeons Use MRI-Guided Lasers To Destroy Tumors

Garrett Fox Gamma Knife (70 comments)

Cool. This sounds like a variant on the "Gamma Knife" technology I'd heard about years ago, where many beams of some sort (microwaves? x-rays?) are sent through the patients' head from different angles so as to deliver massive harm to one spot only.

Unfortunately, we're seeing an advance in health care just in time for it to be taken over.

more than 3 years ago
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Review: Civilization V

Garrett Fox Unnecessary Cuteness / Loss Of Great UI? (399 comments)

I recently bought Civ 3 and 4, and found that in the progression from 2 to 3 to 4 the civ leaders got... excessively cute. It's silly enough to be talking with Abraham Lincoln in 3000 BC, but in Civ 4 I found Caesar blabbing, "Would you like some salad? I made it myself!" That's just not suitable for a serious game. I figure that in 5, Genghis Khan is probably an anime-eyed sparkly thing with cat ears.

Also, am I the only one who loved the UI in games 1 and 2 and Alpha Centauri? I thought the city screen was an excellent piece of UI design that showed a lot of info in an icon format, eg. 2 blue citizens and 3 reds means trouble. Some of the games moved away from that into the realm of percentages and sliders (especially in the "Call To Power" spinoff series), and I miss that. Even the freeware "FreeCiv" goes with a dull UI. How is it in 5?

about 4 years ago
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AT&T Says Net Rules Must Allow 'Paid Prioritization'

Garrett Fox Re:Fuck you AT&T (390 comments)

It just strikes me that some companies are trying to find new ways to make money from the Internet, and the reaction is "no, you can never deviate from the standards we're used to!". I realize there are arguments for why others can't or shouldn't have to just "build their own roads" to use your analogy. But if we'd had a discussion like this some years ago, wouldn't there have been calls to outlaw e-commerce sites, Flash, or Twitter on the grounds that we must freeze the Net the way it is now? Isn't there some way to let companies experiment with offering non-neutral service in such a way that it's unlikely to Ruin Everything?

Another analogy would be airlines. "Some corporations are proposing to build a network of things called 'airplanes' that'll let people travel without the existing roads. And they'll get to decide what prices to charge and what routes to offer. No fair!"

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Congress Proposes Mandatory FM Radio In Gadgets

Garrett Fox Garrett Fox writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Garrett Fox (970174) writes "Ars Technica reports a pending deal between the RIAA and Congress to "mandate that FM radio receivers be built into cell phones, PDAs, and other portable electronics". Not for any technological reason, but as a way to prop up broadcast radio. We already know Congress believes it has authority to do anything it wants..."
Link to Original Source
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Frog Foam Photosynthesis

Garrett Fox Garrett Fox writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Garrett Fox (970174) writes "University of Cincinnati researchers describe a method of getting photosynthesis from a high-surface-area foam containing enzymes that produce sugar using light and CO2. (Abstract). Oddly, the foam itself is derived from a species of frog. More interesting is that the technique doesn't use whole cells or apparently even chloroplasts. The researchers claim "chemical conversion efficiencies approaching 96%", as well as tolerance for deliberately high-CO2 environments."
Link to Original Source
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Australia Announces Net Censorship Legislation

Garrett Fox Garrett Fox writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Garrett Fox (970174) writes "Australia's ABC News reports that the country's Communication Minister, Stephen Conroy, is moving forward with plans for forced censorship of the Internet. He cites the recent test of ISP-level censorship as proof that it can work efficiently and effectively. "The Government believes that parents want assistance," and therefore must be forced to accept that help."
Link to Original Source
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Garrett Fox Garrett Fox writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Garrett Fox (970174) writes "The response by British PM Tony Blair to the online petition against universal surveillance of every car in Britain has been released. Slashdot covered the tracking proposal itself here, and recently covered Blair's rejection of a petition against national biometric ID cards. The anti-tracking petition gathered over 1.7 million supporters before its pre-arranged deadline Tuesday. Blair's reaction? This is purely about "road pricing" and fighting congestion, not surveillance... "But there may also be opportunities presented by developments in new technology." This claim is inconsistent with old reports like this that the system was designed to fight crime."
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Garrett Fox Garrett Fox writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Garrett Fox (970174) writes "Research continues into the use of algae to produce fuel, a concept that's been around for decades. Now though, at least one company is offering technology that can be built into existing factories or power plants to siphon off some of their CO2 output and use it as part of a fuel-generation process, already in testing. Two birds with one stone! Similarly, why not use large-scale production of gengineered kelp in the oceans as a CO2 sink and power/protein source? Can this stuff eventually be done at a profit even in the absence of coercive carbon limits?"
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Garrett Fox Garrett Fox writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Garrett Fox (970174) writes "The European Union and UK are debating changes to the regulation of television, in a way that could include Internet video. The worst-case scenario seems to be the imposition of EU-designed regulations, intended for television, on international Net sites, such that "Personal websites would have to be licensed as a 'television-like service'" and non-Europeans would be affected by European content rules. More information is here. A look at the law in question, the TV Without Frontiers Directive, says here that "enhanced end-user control means less need for regulation" but hints that a "level playing field" means more control and censorship of the Net to keep it "level" with older media. What exactly will the law mean for Internet video? Should this be seen as a rational standardization of rules, or as a power grab?"
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Garrett Fox Garrett Fox writes  |  about 8 years ago

Garrett Fox (970174) writes "Several Senators led by Harry Reid (D-NV) have issued a threatening letter to Disney over the Disney/ABC miniseries on 9/11, which puts partial blame on Clinton for that day's attacks. Reid warns of the companies' "responsibility to the law" not to show "inaccurate" information:
"The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle [sic?] obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events."
The implied threat is that if even large corporations broadcast politically objectionable material, they're subject to punishment."

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