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The Disgruntled Guys Who Babysit Our Aging Nuclear Missiles

PapayaSF Re:Science fiction comes to life, again (176 comments)

Are you thinking of "Game" by Donald Barthleme?

I think that was it, yes. Thanks!

about two weeks ago
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The Disgruntled Guys Who Babysit Our Aging Nuclear Missiles

PapayaSF Science fiction comes to life, again (176 comments)

I remember an old story in which someone at one of those bases would periodically stand between the two launch keys, which are intentionally placed far apart so that it takes two people to turn them simultaneously, and try to stretch his arms far enough so that he could launch the missile. Anybody remember what that story was?

about two weeks ago
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Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices

PapayaSF Re:Let's have a $7/gallon fuel tax (334 comments)

That book is not going to support your argument, and you know it.

The point is not that taxation is bad, but that corrupt systems of taxation are bad

There is a fuckton of a difference between a high taxation and a corrupt taxation regime.

Wow, way to move the goalposts and accuse me of a bad faith argument, while selectively quoting an Amazon review of a book you have clearly not read. The full sentence you selectively quote is:

The point is not that taxation is bad, but that corrupt systems of taxation are bad and that taxation above a certain level is bound to fail since people will find ways to avoid it . [Emphasis added]

Unlike you, I have read the book. Yes, he talks about corrupt tax systems (e.g. the use of independent "tax farmers" to collect revenue). But no, it's not simply about corruption, and documents many instances of high tax systems being bad. E.g., Crete was a major Mediterranean power that derived a great deal of revenue from taxing traders. Then the relative backwater of Rome offered duty-free ports, traders preferred that, and Rome rose while Crete fell. Hundreds of years later, the Roman empire was huge and taxes were high. When barbarian invaders came from the North, many communities did not resist, because at least their taxes would be lower. Part of the early spread of Islam happened similarly: the Muslims promised lower taxes for conversion, so rather than fight or pay extra tax as Christians, they converted.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Minimizing Oil and Gas Dependency In a Central European City?

PapayaSF Re:drill for oil and frack your land (250 comments)

that's what the USA does. most of our oil is from right here and canada

In the USA, landowners generally own the subsurface mineral rights to their land, but in Europe, often it's the government that owns those rights. This makes it easier to stop oil or gas projects than to start them.

about three weeks ago
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New Website Offers Provably Fair Solutions To Everyday Problems

PapayaSF Here's a great method for splitting chores (167 comments)

We did this back in college, and it worked great.

  1. – Make a list of all chores that need to be done every week.
  2. – Agree on a point value for each one, with more points for longer or less pleasant chores.
  3. – Divide the total points by the number of roommates, so everyone has X points to do per week.

The real genius of the system then comes in: whoever does their chores first gets to pick which ones to do, and whoever puts it off until the end has to do whatever's left. So there's a built-in incentive to do chores early, and no squabbling, because everyone agreed to the point rankings ahead of time.

about three weeks ago
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How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

PapayaSF Re:Lol... (296 comments)

Seriously, Apple sold 5.5 million intel-pc's.... It's nothing on total pc sales.

It's enough to put them in the top five PC makers, worldwide. If you count iPads as computers, Apple is the largest computer manufacturer in the world with a 14% share.

about a month ago
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Apple Announces iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, OS X Yosemite and More

PapayaSF Apple Pay vs. Google? (355 comments)

Thank you for that explanation, which got me thinking: Apple Pay could remake the web, in some very good ways. Just expand Apple Pay into the micropayment system I've wanted for over 15 years.

If Apple can "scale this down" (even by losing some money on overhead and transaction costs) and make it painless and worthwhile for a website to charge as little as one cent for something, then many good things happen. I think a vast number of web users would happily click a "1 Cent Apple Pay" button to read the second half of an article or column, or hear a song or a podcast, or watch a funny cat video. If it's good, it's worth one cent. If it wasn't, it was only a penny.

Or think of it as $10 for every 1000 articles read/artworks viewed/songs heard: a trivial expense for weeks or months of web usage for most people, in exchange for the content without registrations, or subscriptions, or pay walls, and without advertising. You know, that annoying stuff you try to block. That stuff that Google sells. (Oh-oh...!)

But this would be much more than a way to drop a pipeline into Google's core revenue source. Creatives and publishers and entrepreneurs of all sorts could just add Apple Pay to a page like a social media button, and then sell or rent their work directly and affordably. One cent transactions may only add up to just a few dollars for some, but what are they making now? Web ads bring them little. Maybe they're happy selling songs for $1, but they might be thrilled by the number of people willing to pay one cent to listen to one song, once.

And it could scale up really well. Charities and activists could raise real money in tiny, painless increments. Even one cent per page view adds up to a big chunk of change for newspapers and magazines that now struggle to survive on advertising and/or subscriptions. I think the New York Times website would be thrilled if their 17 million page views a day made them one cent each: that's over $62 million a year. Or maybe some big players get "greedy," and decide to charge a whole five cents for that big story, or virtual art show, or for your first listen to that new song from your favorite band: a million nickels is $50,000.

Now think of ebook sellers who don't need Amazon any more. Think about PayPal, and streaming music services. And why not Bitcoin via Apple Pay....

I'm sure some of you will see this as a dystopian vision, but I think Apple could do a lot of good and (eventually) make a lot of money with my distributed digital free market daydream.

about a month ago
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White House Wants Ideas For "Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization"

PapayaSF Re:best idea: ask for good ideas (352 comments)

Politicians often discover that when the issue they wish to move forward is resisted by their peers, they can appeal directly to the public. Explain their plan and encourage input from everyone. If they build enough support among the voters, then their peers may be forced to support the plan as well.

Absolutely true.

Kalil may or may not have support from the White House or anyone, but if he gets a big response to this challenge Obama and others will have to reconsider their reluctance.

Now you're not being cynical enough. I think this challenge is likely to be the result of a direct White House request to come up with some good "news for nerds." I don't think it's a coincidence that we are weeks from an election that Democrats are dreading (publicly or not). It's aimed at a core voting/donating demographic that largely supported Obama but now is ticked off about the NSA, the IRS, government transparency, the Middle East, and a bunch of other things. There's no commitment, it costs little, there's little risk of a downside, and it's even legal and ethical. It's a small but perfect election-season ploy.

But regardless of the political motivation and the odds against a real project resulting from it, I'm still in favor, for all the standard nerd reasons.

about a month ago
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Who's In Charge During the Ebola Crisis?

PapayaSF Re:No, that's not the problem (279 comments)

Since there are about 4-5,000 workplace fatalities a year, virtually all of them preventable, that's a good return for the money. [...] So if CDC doesn't do this stuff, nobody will.

Then what is OSHA for?

about a month and a half ago
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Who's In Charge During the Ebola Crisis?

PapayaSF Re:No, that's not the problem (279 comments)

Why is this a problem? Research should always be done, however ridiculous your hypothesis may be. The freedom to do such insane research is what has made USA the leader of all sciences.

Of course research is generally good, but priorities must be decided. Right now, I suspect people would rather that money had been spent researching Ebola.

about a month and a half ago
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Who's In Charge During the Ebola Crisis?

PapayaSF No, that's not the problem (279 comments)

one could argue that the United States is hobbled by an outdated constitution in responding to epidemics

The USA has handled many epidemics in the past. The experience of Western Samoa vs. American Samoa during the Spanish Flu epidemic is an interesting example. The TL;DR: version: Western Samoa decided they couldn't stopping the importation of plantation laborers, and as a result 20-25% of the population died. American Samoa self-quarantined, and nobody died.

One of the core problems today is that the CDC has lost focus, and instead of controlling infectious disease, they spend money things like playground safety, workplace accidents, guns, and birth defects. And then there was the NIH grant to study why gay men are often thin and lesbians are often obese.

We don't need to change the Constitution, just the spending and research priorities of a bunch of bureaucracies.

about a month and a half ago
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Federal Government Removes 7 Americans From No-Fly List

PapayaSF I have never understood this (124 comments)

What exactly is the point of this odd half-assed sort of category, a "no-fly list"? If the federal government suspects a citizen or resident might be a terrorist, OK, then get a friggin' warrant and bug their phone and search their house and get some real evidence. Since terrorists can do a lot more than hijack airplanes, what's the message here? "We want to prevent you from hijacking an airliner, but a bus is OK?" Either treat them like a suspected terrorist, or just stop hassling them.

about a month and a half ago
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Google Rejects 58% of "Right To Be Forgotten" Requests

PapayaSF Re:Reasonable (144 comments)

Google's approach to this is reasonable. Criminals and public officials voluntarily give up a level of privacy due to their voluntary status as criminals and public officials.

I agree, but I dislike this whole "right to be forgotten" thing. Yes, for some people it sucks to have bad/old information on the internet, but in effect what's happening here is various people demanding censorship of information about themselves, and then Google deciding whether or not to comply. Are we sure we know what their standards are, and that they will be applied fairly? The opportunities for bias are obvious: will a request to remove (say) an old bit of dirt on someone associated with a cause or political party that Google likes will be treated the same way as dirt on someone associated with a cause or political party that Google doesn't like?

Plus, there's a slippery slope. Now that politicians know they can force Google to censor results, why not expand that for "the good of society"? How long before some politician decides that Google users shouldn't be able to search for things deemed to be "racist" or "sexist" or "hate speech" or "climate denial" or whatever?

about a month and a half ago
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AIDS Origin Traced To 1920s Kinshasa

PapayaSF Re:Are we sure it is blood/meat contact? (162 comments)

There is a risk that HIV can spread orally to someone with gingivitis (bleeding gums), and I wonder if the jump from bush meat to humans in 1920s might have happened when someone with gingivitis ate some bloody bush meat.

about 2 months ago
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AIDS Origin Traced To 1920s Kinshasa

PapayaSF Re:Doctor Mary's Monkey (162 comments)

As a species, we've been eating meat for a long, long time, and our digestive and immune systems have proven well-adapted to the preventing of cross-species viral contamination through that means.

What was the dental hygiene like in Kinshasa in the 1920s? Might not there have been some people with gingivitis (bleeding gums) who ate some bushmeat that was a bit rare/bloody?

about 2 months ago
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GlaxoSmithKline Released 45 Liters of Live Polio Virus

PapayaSF Re:This is why I am worried about Ebola (209 comments)

Ah, well if so, that's true negligence on the part of the hospital/medical authorities.

about 2 months ago
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Code.org: Blame Tech Diversity On Education Pipeline, Not Hiring Discrimination

PapayaSF Re:The cult of diversity is really out of hand (227 comments)

Yeah, that's part of it, but the part I am talking about is the part that says "You cannot understand my experience because it's so different."

about 2 months ago
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Code.org: Blame Tech Diversity On Education Pipeline, Not Hiring Discrimination

PapayaSF Re:The cult of diversity is really out of hand (227 comments)

Except that this is not true. Biology has not radically changed in the last few decades, yet the number of women wanting to enter engineering, math, or computing programs at school as dropped by a very large amount.

I'm not sure what you are saying is "not true," because what you say supports my point: nobody thinks discrimination against women in tech has increased in recent decades, so this is more likely to be the result of a bunch of individual decisions.

Now I could be persuaded that there might not be a problem, as you seem to imply, if you could show that all of these women are getting jobs that pay as much as the CS oriented jobs do.

Why must they get jobs that pay as much as the CS oriented jobs do? Maybe they'd rather have different jobs that pay less. Maybe they'd rather have kids and stay home. As long as they are making free choices, let them do what they want, and don't obsess over "inequalities" and "lack of diversity" that are purely statistical and based on a false conception of how humans behave.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Stars Exposed in Massive Nude Photo Leak

PapayaSF PapayaSF writes  |  about 3 months ago

PapayaSF (721268) writes "Nude celebrities, bitcoins, and Apple: it's a story seemingly designed to stir up the entire internet. Scores of private photos of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Kirsten Dunst, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead have been leaked (allegedly from Apple's iCloud), and posted on 4chan in exchange for bitcoins. A list of 100+ names has appeared, but pictures have not yet appeared for many names on the list (including Kate Bosworth, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Kaley Cuoco). Victoria Justice claims the photos of her are fake. Twitter accounts are being shut down. The story is still developing, so grab your popcorn."
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HealthCare.gov Can't Handle Appeals of Errors

PapayaSF PapayaSF writes  |  about 10 months ago

PapayaSF (721268) writes "The Washington Post reports that roughly 22,000 people have claimed they were charged too much, steered into the wrong insurance program, or denied coverage, but the website cannot handle appeals. They've filled out seven-page forms and mailed them to a federal contractor’s office in Kentucky, where they were scanned and entered, but workers at CMS cannot read them because that part of the system has not been built. Other missing aspects are said to have higher priorities: completing the electronic payment system for insurers, the connections with state Medicaid programs, and the ability to adjust coverage to accommodate major changes such as new babies. People with complaints about mistakes have been told to "return to the Web site and start over."

Earlier coverage of this saga includes Slashdot's discussion of the recent TheHill.com report that Accenture Faces Mid-March Healthcare.gov Deadline Or 'Disaster'."
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Accenture faces mid-March deadline or disaster

PapayaSF PapayaSF writes  |  about 10 months ago

PapayaSF (721268) writes "TheHill.com reports that Accenture has two months to fix HealthCare.gov by building a "financial management platform that tracks eligibility and enrollment transactions, accounts for subsidy payments to insurance plans, 'provides stable and predictable financial accounting and outlook for the entire program,' and that integrates with existing CMS and IRS systems." The procurement document, posted on a federal website, states that if this is not completed in time, there will be "financial harm to the government" and "the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized." Risk mitigation (which pays insurers who enroll a higher-than-expected number of sick patients) must be accurately forecast, or it might put "the entire health insurance industry at risk.” Accenture will also have to fix the enrollment transmissions, which have been sending inaccurate and garbled data to insurance companies. Because the back-end cannot currently handle the federal subsidies, insurers will be paid estimated amounts as a stopgap measure. The document also said that officials realized in December that there was no time for a “full and open competition process” before awarding Accenture the $91 million contract. What are their odds of success?"
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The SEC is about to make crowdfunding more expensive

PapayaSF PapayaSF writes  |  about a year ago

PapayaSF (721268) writes "Proposed new rules require that funding portals register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Intermediary Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In addition, investors must have access to a business plan, use of proceeds, a valuation of the company, and financials, so CPAs may needed. The SEC estimates that for amounts under $100,000, the fees will be 12.9% to 39% of the money raised, though it may drop to under 8% for higher amounts. Is this needed regulation, or bureaucratic overreach?"
Link to Original Source
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"Green gasoline" breakthrough

PapayaSF PapayaSF writes  |  more than 6 years ago

PapayaSF writes "Researchers have announced the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into "green gasoline." Rapidly heating cellulose with catalysts and then cooling it produces liquids like naphthalene and toluene that are a quarter of the components of gasoline, in under two minutes. The result can be further treated or used as part of a gasoline blend, and can be used in existing engines without the mileage penalty of ethanol-based fuel. The process requires less energy to make than ethanol, can use forest or agricultural waste, and (in principle) won't have a carbon footprint. They say it could be at the pump in five to 10 years."
Link to Original Source
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Total Music to Challenge iTunes

PapayaSF PapayaSF writes  |  more than 7 years ago

PapayaSF writes "Business Week is reporting on a plan by Universal Music, Sony BMG, and possibly Warner Music Group to create an industry-owned digital music service called Total Music. The business model: get hardware makers and cellphone carriers to pay them about about $90 per device and in exchange consumers get all-you-can-eat free music. They figure that hardware makers will go for it because they'll sell more units, and consumers will happily pay the extra money upfront to get free music. So will this be a real challenge to Apple, or another music industry flop?"
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Mod points return!

PapayaSF PapayaSF writes  |  more than 3 years ago

After about five months without mod points, they came back right after the redesign. Coincidence or not? Who can say....

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I wonder what happened to all my mod points

PapayaSF PapayaSF writes  |  more than 3 years ago

For a while over the summer it seemed like I was getting 15 mod points every week or two. Sometimes I didn't use them all up before the next batch came in. Then around September they all stopped. I don't think I've had any for three months. Were my mod abilities suddenly considered to be not up to snuff? Did a bunch of other Slashdotters come back from vacation, eager to moderate? Did my half-hearted stabs at meta-moderation work against me? (I *much* preferred the old metamod system and was much better at doing it then.) Maybe someone out there knows....

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