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Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated?

Required Snark Re:Yes. (634 comments)

Or have we abandoned personal responsibility?

Do you mean have we become like Wall Street and expect the government to bail us out when we are greedy, stupid and incompetent?

2 days ago
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Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

Required Snark A Real Capitalist (307 comments)

When you are the king of the hill, like Blackberry was, you have a walled garden and you want the government to "protect your rights".

When you're in deep trouble, you decide that it's the government's absolute duty to use the law keep you in business.

All that "free market" talk is for the suckers. What capitalists want is government guaranteed profit; i.e. they want the same free ride that Wall Street gets.

2 days ago
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

Required Snark Re:More proof (661 comments)

No, no. American's aren't dense, they will float because they are so fat,

3 days ago
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

Required Snark Republicans are stupid (661 comments)

I didn't bother to read anything but the headline, because I'm tired of the endless crap that spews out of the Republican party. It's a never ending flow of sewage, and it stinks in every way.

They might as well be voting on whether the world is flat or not. This falls into the category of "not even wrong".

We already know how this is going to come out; the Republican House and Senate will scream "Hoax".

They will do this for a combination of ugly and stupid reasons. First, they are the party of greed. As long as the top 1% are raking it in they don't care who gets screwed. Second, they hate Obama personally, because he is an Uppity N*****. This is a way of telling him to go screw himself.

Finally, it's an expression of the one value that all Republicans agree on: Fuck You. This is the real motto of the Republican party. Being for something is not what motivates them, but being violently against something is what gets them off. They even love to do it to one another, which is why they sling the term RHINO around: Republican In Name Only. For them, it's a curse word.

If there is a scintilla of good to come from this, it's from the stain it will leave on the Republican party. When climate change effects start to really kick in over the next 20 years, they will be on record as being horribly wrong. Since climate change is going to be the defining issue of the 21st century, it will be hard to escape the shadow of this very high profile blunder.

Personally, I hope that not only the Republican party will be held accountable, but that the individuals who vote for this will suffer. When things get ugly, I want them to hounded and blamed in public, and have their lives ruined. It's all that they deserve, and it might serve as a lesson for the future that willful ignorance can have personal, as well as global, consequences.

3 days ago
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Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software

Required Snark What software/hardware are the critics running? (227 comments)

Many Slashdot Pundits are being hyper critical of his project because hardware X may be compromised by the NSA, or chip Y has blob drivers, or software stack Z is encumbered by patents. Since they are all so worried about the lack of Open Source Purity, they must already running some fantastic setup that has solved all these problems.

Obviously. since the problem is solved, they should be sharing the details with the rest of the poor slobs on Slashdot who are at the mercy of the evil forces of closed proprietary systems.

For a start, none of them are running any Microsoft or Apple product, so no Windows or Mac Os. And they can't be using the latest generation of any CPU, since the NSA has already infiltrated those designs. To be really secure, they must be using something pre-Pentium II, like a 486 generation CPU, or maybe a Motorola 68000. And it can't have USB, since USB sticks are now known to be an attack vector. And they have ATA disks or SCSI and floppies for offline storage and VGA adapters with VGA analog output. Because if they don't go go really old school, how can the be really sure that they aren't under the thumb of The Man?

Yes, all the whiners are running really old gear, because if they weren't they would be horrible hypocrites, and none of them would do that ever, right?

4 days ago
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Could Tizen Be the Next Android?

Required Snark Re:Nope (241 comments)

What other phone manufacturer would touch Tizen with a 10-foot pole? That would put them at a significant disadvantage because Samsung would never let them build a better product. So the only ones using will be Samsung, and somehow it doesn't seem likely that Samsung can create the same kind of walled garden that Apple has developed.

It seems like Google is has no long term commitment to building phone hardware. They didn't keep Motorola, for example. And this attempt to make a modular phone seems more like a technology demonstration then a product role out. Does anyone think they will try and make a business line out of it? I doubt it. So hardware vendors can continue use Android and not be worried about competing with Google directly, which is why I think they got rid of Motorola.

5 days ago
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Google Pondering $1 Billion Investment In SpaceX's Satellite Internet

Required Snark Re:Business model? (100 comments)

Yes, the efficient private sector is vastly more efficient at lots of things, like nearly destroying the world financial system through a mixture of greed and stupidity.

Many causes for the financial crisis have been suggested, with varying weight assigned by experts. The U.S. Senate's Levin–Coburn Report concluded that the crisis was the result of "high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street." The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded that the financial crisis was avoidable and was caused by "widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision," "dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions," "a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency" by financial institutions, ill preparation and inconsistent action by government that "added to the uncertainty and panic," a "systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics," "collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization pipeline," deregulation of over-the-counter derivatives, especially credit default swaps, and "the failures of credit rating agencies" to correctly price risk. The 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act effectively removed the separation between investment banks and depository banks in the United States. Critics argued that credit rating agencies and investors failed to accurately price the risk involved with mortgage-related financial products, and that governments did not adjust their regulatory practices to address 21st-century financial markets. Research into the causes of the financial crisis has also focused on the role of interest rate spreads.

And before you jump on the culpability of the US Government, the regulatory failures were the results of decades of deregulation that started during the Reagan eras, and were advanced by Alan Greenspan, a life long opponent of financial regulation.

As early as 1997, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan fought to keep the derivatives market unregulated. With the advice of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, the U.S. Congress and President Bill Clinton allowed the self-regulation of the over-the-counter derivatives market when they enacted the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Derivatives such as credit default swaps (CDS) can be used to hedge or speculate against particular credit risks without necessarily owning the underlying debt instruments. The volume of CDS outstanding increased 100-fold from 1998 to 2008, with estimates of the debt covered by CDS contracts, as of November 2008, ranging from US$33 to $47 trillion. Total over-the-counter (OTC) derivative notional value rose to $683 trillion by June 2008. Warren Buffett famously referred to derivatives as "financial weapons of mass destruction" in early 2003.

And speaking of telecommunications, our national policy is now being dictated by Tom Wheeler as head of the FCC, who previously was head of both the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. That means he was representing Comcast with one of the worst customer rankings of any organization in the US, including the IRS.

In 2004 and 2007, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey found that Comcast had the worst customer satisfaction rating of any company or government agency in the country, including the Internal Revenue Service. The ACSI indicates that almost half of all cable customers (regardless of company) have registered complaints, and that cable is the only industry to score below 60 in the ACSI. Comcast's Customer Service Rating by the ACSI surveys indicate that the company's customer service has never improved since the surveys began in 2001. Analysis of the surveys states that "Comcast is one of the lowest scoring companies in ACSI. As its customer satisfaction eroded by 7% over the past year, revenue increased by 12%." The ACSI analysis also addresses this contradiction, stating that "Such pricing power usually comes with some level of monopoly protection and most cable companies have little competition at the local level. This also means that a cable company can do well financially even though its customers are not particularly satisfied." In 2009 Comcast rebounded on its ACSI rating for television and Internet services, moving ahead of Charter Communications and into a tie with Time Warner Cable.

...

Consumer affairs blog The Consumerist named Comcast "Worst Company in America" in 2010 and 2014. The company received the "Golden Poo" award to its Philadelphia headquarters in commemoration of the victory. The company also finished in the top three in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013. Since 2006, it has received more Golden, Silver and Bronze awards for poor customer service performance than any other company in the country, including Wal-Mart, Bank of America, and Ticketmaster.

So private enterprise does a great job, if your definition of "great" includes gross incompetence, government enforced monopolies, greed of epic proportions and taxpayer bailouts.

5 days ago
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Google Pondering $1 Billion Investment In SpaceX's Satellite Internet

Required Snark Re:Non-voting shares (100 comments)

push SpaceX to use Google hardware and software

Are we talking about Google Docs in space? Google Glass for astronauts? What hardware or software are you talking about? Do you have the fainest clue about space rating anything? It's not going down to Best Buy and getting a laptop with TurboTax, you realize, right?

5 days ago
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Feds Operated Yet Another Secret Metadata Database Until 2013

Required Snark Re:I predict far less outrage (102 comments)

Are minorities treated like second-class citizens in the US or something?

Family Outraged After North Miami Beach Police Use Mug Shots as Shooting Targets

A South Florida family is outraged at North Miami Beach Police after mug shots of African American men were used at a shooting range for police training.

It was an ordinary Saturday morning last month when Sgt. Valerie Deant arrived at the shooting range in Medley, or so she thought.

Deant, who plays clarinet with the Florida Army National Guard’s 13th Army Band, and her fellow soldiers were at the shooting range for their annual weapons qualifications training.

What the soldiers discovered when they entered the range made them angry: mug shots of African American men apparently used as targets by North Miami Beach Police snipers, who had used the range before the guardsmen.

Even more startling for Deant, one of the images was her brother. It was Woody Deant’s mug shot that taken 15 years ago, after he was arrested in connection to a drag race in 2000 that left two people dead. His mug shot was among the pictures of five minorities used as targets by North Miami Beach police, all of them riddled by bullets.

“I was like 'why is my brother being used for target practice?'" Deant asked.

She immediately called her brother, Woody Deant, who was 18 years old when the picture was taken.

“The picture actually has like bullet holes,” Woody Deant said. “One in my forehead and one in my eye. I was speechless," he added.

The City of Medley owns the Medley Firearms Training Center and it leases the facilities to law enforcement agencies in the area. The shooting range staff doesn’t select the targets used by law enforcement and the military.

North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis admitted that his officers could have used better judgment, but denies any racial profiling.

He noted that the sniper team includes minority officers. Dennis defended the department’s use of actual photographs and says the technique is widely used and the pictures are vital for facial recognition drills. But the Deant family questions why officers were firing targets with images of real people, in this case African-Americans, especially at a time when relations between minority communities and law enforcement are so tense.

“Our policies were not violated,” Dennis said. “There is no discipline forthcoming from the individuals who were involved with this.”

NBC 6 Investigators spoke with sources at federal and state law enforcement agencies and five local police departments that have SWAT and sniper teams in an attempt to find out if this is a common practice. All law enforcement agencies said they only use commercially produced targets, not photos of human beings for target practice.

Yes, the short answer is that in the USA minorities are second class citizens. They are often are denied the rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

Now consider what would happen if a minority gun club had targets made of white people. They would be slapped with the label "terrorist" and end up in a Federal maximum security lockup for life.

You don't think so? No matter who you are if you did the same thing with pictures of cops it would happen to you. But if you have a gun and badge and you do the equivalent, then it's just bad judgement.

about a week ago
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To Avoid Detection, Terrorists Made Messages Seem Like Spam

Required Snark Dr. Wertheimer was just cited on Slashdot (110 comments)

Wertheimer is the Directer of Research a the NSA. He was quoted on Slashdot two days ago apologizing in the Notes of the American Mathematical Society. The issue was a possible trap door in a set of encryption standard parameters submitted by the NSA. This was noticed by some researchers at Microsoft, and when it was brought up in the standards committee NSA just ignored the criticism.

This made some member of the AMS very unhappy. Here is what angry mathematicians sound like:

“AMS Should Sever Ties with the NSA” (Letter to the Editor), by Alexander Beilinson (December 2013); “Dear NSA: Long-Term Security Depends on Freedom”, by Stefan Forcey (January 2014); “The NSA Backdoor to NIST”, by Thomas C. Hales (February 2014); “The NSA: A Betrayal of Trust”, by Keith Devlin (June/July 2014); “The Mathematical Community and the National Security Agency”, by Andrew Odlyzko (June/July 2014); “NSA and the Snowden Issues”, by Richard George (August 2014); “The Danger of Success”, by William Binney (Sep tember 2014);

If you read his statement, it is content free. As a admission of wrongdoing, it's completely worthless.

"With hindsight, NSA should have ceased supporting the dual EC_DRBG algorithm immediately after security researchers discovered the potential for a trapdoor. In truth, I can think of no better way to describe our failure to drop support for the Dual_EC_DRBG algorithm as anything other than regrettable"

This is more of an apology for getting caught then anything else.

So when Dr. Wertheimer pontificates about filtering email and national security, you should not be very impressed. His agenda assumes the end of constitutional protections for privacy. He is not an honest man doing an honest job for an honest employer.

about a week ago
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Deep-Frying Graphene Microspheres For Energy Storage

Required Snark Re:Science, not a product (49 comments)

Graphene is like affordable solar cell energy. It takes a long, long time to get started, and it seems that it's always five to ten years off, and then "suddenly" it has a major impact. Let's face it, the low hanging fruit, like transistors, has all been exploited. And even transistors had their begging in the 1930s with research at places like Bell Labs.

Introducing fundamental technology takes decades of incremental improvements and theoretical discovery. If you are looking for instant gratification perhaps you should shift your focus to web startups or multi-level marketing schemes. Things like graphene require a long attention span and lots of dedicated work. That doesn't seem to fit with your attitude.

about two weeks ago
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Virgin Galactic To Launch 2,400 Comm. Satellites To Offer Ubiquitous Broadband

Required Snark Re:Why so many? (123 comments)

RTFA, moron.

They are using the WhiteKnightTwo with a unmanned rocket payload for orbital launches.

Branson wrote in his blog that the company is working to build a two-stage rocket, known as LauncherOne that would air-launch launch from the companies existing WhiteKnightTwo aircraft at about 45,000 to 50,000ft.

“LauncherOne will be built using advanced composite structures, and powered by our new family of LOX/RP-1 liquid rocket engines. Each LauncherOne mission will be capable of delivering as much as 225 kilograms (500 pounds) to a low inclination Low Earth Orbit or 120 kilograms (265 pounds) to a high-altitude Sun-Synchronous Orbit, for a price of less than $10M,” Branson wrote.

So far the responses to this post indicate that Slasdot should change it's name to Slashdolt because of the shear stupidity of what's being said. The first post is by Frosty Piss, and he is living up (or more accurately down) to his name. It seems like the nerds have been displaced by drooling fools.

I'm starting to wonder if I should waste my time on the likes of you.

about two weeks ago
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NSA Official: Supporting Backdoored Random Number Generator Was "Regrettable"

Required Snark Re:Wait, which part is he sorry about now? (106 comments)

Treason is not the correct term. It refers to betrayal of country.

In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife or that of a master by his servant.

The correct term is Sedition.

In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition.

Note the boldface. In this case the "established order" is the rule of law enshrined in the constitution. The NSA has subverted the constitution with warrantless mass surveillance. The Department of Homeland Security (aka Department of Homeland Pork) has ignored the constitutional right to due process with the "no fly list": there is no official way to find out if you are on it or to be removed from the list.

These actions, along with many current policies, are absolutely unconstitutional. In short, sedition. They betray the constitutional rule of law. Treason typically is the betrayal of one's country to another sovereign entity.

about two weeks ago
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What's Wrong With the Manhattan Project National Park

Required Snark Re:How dare you talk down about Reagan like that! (160 comments)

The American middle class prospered from the end of WWII up to the time of the Reagan presidency. In the post-Reagan era an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth is the new normal. We have an economical/political system that redistributes wealth upwards. There is no other rational explanation for the current statistics. This is the legacy of Reaganomics: the end of the American Dream.

The US, post-Soviet Russia and post-Communist China are all following the same path to rule by oligarchy. The differences in how control is concentrated are not important to the continuing concentration of power in each system. In Russia, the economic oligarchs are only allowed to slavishly support Putan, or they are jailed or exiled and their wealth stripped. In China the oligarchs are either Party members themselves or the families of Party members. The rest of the rich know that they must participate in the endemic corruption. They were only allowed to succeed because they embraced corruption from the beginning.

In the US the oligarchs have, for the most part, taken over the government and the country is run for their benefit. Examples are too numerous to mention, but I'll highlight a few.

The 2008 market crash. The reason it was so horrific in the first place was that the Bush administration effectively suspended all regulation of Wall Street and Alan Greenspan got to fulfill his Libertarian fantasy. The result, unsurprisingly, was an epic failure. Lack of effective oversight is the wet dream of every oligarch. That's why they love secret unlimited secret campaign contributions, another gift to oligarchs the from the politicians and judges they own.

The bailout from the crash was another astonishing transfer of wealth to the ultra rich. Instead of calling Wall Street to task and making those responsible pay up, the oligarchs were rewarded instead. Many of them are have far more now then they did before 2008, and everyone else is worse off. The new stock market highs are the proof of that. Meanwhile, the job recovery is still lagging, and the jobs that are being generated pay significantly lower then before the crash. This is a mass transfer of assets from the general population to the rich. Again there is no other rational explanation.

An earlier example is Medicare Part D, brought to your pocketbook by Big Pharma and Billy Tauzin,

Two months before resigning as chair of the committee which oversees the drug industry, Tauzin had played a key role in shepherding through Congress the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill. Democrats said that the bill was "a give-away to the drugmakers" because it prohibited the government from negotiating lower drug prices and bans the importation of identical, cheaper, drugs from Canada and elsewhere. The Veterans Affairs agency, which can negotiate drug prices, pays much less than Medicare. Public Citizen called Tauzin's hiring "yet another example of how public service is leading to private riches." Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook said, "a member of Congress who pushed through a major piece of legislation benefiting the drug industry gets the job leading that industry."

The bill was passed in an unusual congressional session at 3 a.m. under heavy pressure from the drug companies. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) said, "The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill." The drug lobby invested more than $10 million in campaign contributions during the last election and has been a source of lucrative employment opportunities for congressmen when they leave office, said Jones.

Tauzin received $11.6 million from PhRMA in 2010, making him the highest-paid health-law lobbyist.

I'll even make a prediction: when the FCC announces what they will call "Net Neutrality" rules, it will be the end of the internet as an open platform. It will become just as closed, structured and overpriced as the current cable industry. Just like Wall Street and Big Pharma, the cable/telco oligarchs want their non-competitive guaranteed profit margins. And since they have paid for the privilege they'll get it. You have no say in the matter.

So remember, if you like loosing your economic well being and personal liberty in a corrupt surveillance state, it all started with your hero, Ronald Reagan.

about two weeks ago
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Report: DHS Failing On Cybersecurity

Required Snark Re:No it isn't! (68 comments)

Remember, the real name of DHS is DHP: Department of Homland Pork.

about three weeks ago
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European Researchers Develop More Accurate Full-Body Polygraph

Required Snark Pseudoscientific nonsense (106 comments)

Yes, fitting a random person into a full body rig will have zero impact on the false positive/false negative rates. No problem.

They tested this on 75 volunteers. This is an example of the kind of bogus "proof" that is used to justify the utility of polygraphs in the first place.

It's in the same territory as drug companies excluding tests that show problems with their drugs. I'm sure if they ran enough small groups that they could find one with better then 90% and report only that.

Why do polygraph advocates lie so much?

about three weeks ago
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What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

Required Snark Re:FORTRAN (578 comments)

Binary or Hex. But not Octal.

about three weeks ago
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Sony Sends DMCA Notices Against Users Spreading Leaked Emails

Required Snark Sony views this as primarily a PR problem (138 comments)

They clearly are more concerned about the publicity aspects of the hack then anything else. Any other issues, like exposure of employee data, don't mean a damn to them.

That's why there are the DCMA takedown notices and the threats to sue. They figure that if they can keep it out of the press then it will soon be forgotten and they won't have much to worry about.

This might work for the general public, but in Hollywood it's not going to be that easy. Besides the powerful individuals that they trashed, it's now obvious that that they also engage in routine conspiracies to get what they want. That's what the Google maneuver was about. A lot of players are going to realize that Sony had done a lot of dirty deeds already, and some will see that previous problems may be the result of underhanded tactics. Not that anyone else is better, but having confirmation effectively raises the stakes.

Personally, I enjoy looking forward to some real pain in Sony land. They have a bad reputation among the Hollywood rank and file, so there will be a lot of schadenfreude in the new year. It's long overdue.

about three weeks ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

Required Snark Traditional funding vs. individual billionairs (235 comments)

What are the alternatives? Who will fund things like deep sea diving or space launch systems? (Big game hunting is just a stupid troll.)

There are only two groups outside of individual rich people who can fund these endeavors: governments and normal investment. Governments are already in the game. India just launched their first heavy lift vehicle, for example.

Regular investment will never take that kind of risk. Perhaps in the past you could have raised money on Wall Street or the equivalent, but these days big financial institutions expect government subsidized guaranteed profit. It's so much easier to buy legislation, manipulate the system and control regulators then invest in long term innovation. Acquisitions and mergers along with zero interest prime rate funding lines their pockets without any bothersome "investing". Why bother with risky space investment, for example?

So it's fine if big egos go after these kinds of things. There are a lot worse ways that the ultra rich spend their wealth. Would you rather see Musk with Tesla and SpaceX, or Ellison with his billion dollar yacht?

By the way, you are subsidizing Ellison's yacht and purchase of the island of Lanai in Hawaii. He took out a loan against his stock in Oracle, so the interest he pays defers his income taxes. To quote another rich asshat, "taxes are for little people."

about three weeks ago
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Over 78% of All PHP Installs Are Insecure

Required Snark Why am I not surprised? (112 comments)

Given how abysmal PHP is as a language, it seems completely consistent that an overwhelming percentage of the deployed systems are security failures. PHP seems to breed incompetence.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Bitcoin is the worst investment of 2014

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about a month ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "According to Quartz, Bitcoin is the worst investment of 2014. Year to date it is down 52%. Reasons given are it's relation to "dark web" sites like Silk Road, the collapse of Mt. Gox, and the possibility that it is dominated by speculators.

An interesting observation is that nationally sponsored currencies have a built in advantage.

Money derives much of its value from its government support, in that the government has the power to make it legal tender. That is, the government says not only that currency can be accepted, but it must be accepted. That political choice is what ensures that the currency has an actual utility, that is, it can be used widely for actual transactions. That’s what makes a currency useful.

"

Link to Original Source
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Boing Using Accounting Tricks to Throttle SpaceX

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about 7 months ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put forth a proposal that all US launch providers must "be required to submit financial reports before transporting astronauts to the ISS." This would keep all the launch providers except Boeing /United Lauch Alliance from making manned ISI flights.

The reasoning:

At a hearing on May 1, Shelby said that “NASA is spending billions to help private companies develop a launch vehicle, but has little to no access to the books and records associated with its investment.”

The White House responded stating

their concern “about language that would seek to apply accounting requirements unsuitable for a firm, fixed-price acquisition.” The House said that changes made would “likely increasing the program’s cost and potentially delaying its schedule.”

As previously posted on Slashdot, loosing access to these motors could impact up to 31 scheduled missions.

So why is Senator Shelby siding with Boeing and the Russians?

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby today discussed important issues facing Alabama and the nation, including job growth, during his visit to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) production facility in Decatur, Ala., where ULA manufactures both Atlas and Delta launch vehicles.

...

“In light of sustained high unemployment rates, I am pleased that ULA employs hundreds of Alabamians and plans to hire dozens more producing the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle here in Decatur,” said Sen. Shelby. “These high-skilled workers assemble a unique national asset whose success currently underpins the very existence of our national security space program. ULA’s presence is welcome in Alabama. I appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with the company’s workers and the citizens of Decatur to discuss our country’s deepest challenges and lay out a positive vision for the future.”

So Red White and Blue Senator Shelby has decided that jobs in his state and campaign contributions (a.k.a bribes) from Boeing are more important then access to space. He also seems to have forgotten the American values of free enterprise and technical innovation in favor of state sponsored entrenched interests in both the US (Boeing) and Russia (NPO Energomash).

I wonder what Shelby is doing on the Fourth of July?"

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Thick Chinese Smog is Harming Agriculture

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about a year ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "The smog in China is so thick and pervasive that it is having a large scale negative impact on agricultural production.

Scientists say China's smog blocks natural light, thus slowing down the photosynthesis process necessary for plants to thrive.

...

He Dongxian, an associate professor with China Agricultural University's College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, conducted experiments in Beijing over recent months which she says showed a drastic slowdown in the photosynthesis process.

As part of He's experiments, chili and tomato seeds, for example, took more than two months to sprout at a greenhouse farm in Beijing's Changping district, while the same outcome is typically achieved in 20 days under artificial light in a laboratory. Air pollutants adhere to greenhouse surfaces, reducing by half the amount of light available to the plants, she said.

Most seedlings at the farm were weak or sick, He told the Post. "They will be lucky to live at all."

If China's smog persists or intensifies, He warns, the country's food supply faces devastating consequences. "Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic."

According to the story "much of north and central China — about one-seventh of the country — was also covered in smog last weekend", so the problem extends far beyond Beijing."
Link to Original Source

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San Francisco Rail Commuters Ignore Man Flashing Gun: One Killed

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about a year ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "

The man drew the gun several times on the crowded San Francisco commuter train, with surveillance video showing him pointing it across the aisle without anyone noticing and then putting it back against his side, according to authorities.

The other passengers were so absorbed in their phones and tablets they didn't notice the gunman until he randomly shot and killed a university student, authorities said.

"These weren't concealed movements — the gun is very clear," District Attorney George Gascon said. "These people are in very close proximity with him, and nobody sees this. They're just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot. They're completely oblivious of their surroundings."'

The next time you are out in public, put in your ear buds, and zone out while connected online, just remember even though your mind has "left the building", you are still actually physically present..

Sometimes ignoring your surroundings is the wrong thing to do. In this case, everyone was so spaced out they were all sitting ducks.

So ask yourself: when was the last time I was so plugged in that I missed something big? Has anyone had a life threatening experience due to being on line at the wrong time?"

Link to Original Source

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Lockeed "Skunk Works" Announces Fusion Power Demo in Five Years

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about a year ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "

At the recent Google “Solve for X” conference on February 7, Lockheed Martin's long-term R&D department (“Skunk Works”) announced they are working on a compact fusion reactor. With what seems a 4th generation prototype called "T4", the aerospace giant says to have developed a high beta configuration, which allows a compact reactor design and faster development timeline.

Public reactions describe the announcement of their activities on nuclear fusion remarkable, because Lockheed Martin doesn't usually make public announcements about Skunkwork projects unless they have a high degree of confidence in their chances of success. The developement timeline indicates plans to have a prototype 100-megawatt nuclear fusion machine of Lockheed Martin tested in 2017, and that a fully operational machine should be grid-ready ten years from now.

Some of the properties reported from the presentation:

  • A self-tuning feedback mechanism whereby the magnetic field increases the farther out that the plasma goes
  • Novel magnetic field configuration that has very few open field lines compared to tokamak design
  • Very "good arch curvature" of the field lines The system has a beta of about 1
  • System is working with D-T fuel

Although the presentation is short on details, Lockheed Skunk Words has a phenomenal track record, and they are putting their reputation of the line when they make this kind of announcement at a high profile Google event. A video of the presentation is here."
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The Unreasonable Effectiveness of C

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  about 2 years ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "Let the Language Wars Begin (Again). Damian Katz of CouchDB published a blog post entitled "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of C".

"For years I've tried my damnedest to get away from C. Too simple, too many details to manage, too old and crufty, too low level. I've had intense and torrid love affairs with Java, C++, and Erlang. I've built things I'm proud of with all of them, and yet each has broken my heart. They've made promises they couldn't keep, created cultures that focus on the wrong things, and made devastating tradeoffs that eventually make you suffer painfully. And I keep crawling back to C."

Among it's other virtues, he points out that it is a fantastic high level language that "makes it easy to reason about high level algorithms and low level hardware at the same time." It offers the best speed, debugging environment, consistency of execution, a uniform ABI, compatibility with other languages, and a fast build-test-debug cycle. It has many flaws, but as Katz says "Its flaws are very very well known, and this is a virtue. All languages and implementations have gotchas and hangups. C is just far more upfront about it."

So, Slashdot, is everything old new again?"

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High Frequency Trading: Far Worse then you Thought

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "High Frequency Trading is a software engineering disaster, according to a study by the Chicago Federal Reserve. As reported at The Economic Populist, problems include:

Industry and regulatory groups have articulated best practices related to risk controls, but many firms fail to implement all the recommendations or rely on other firms in the trade cycle to catch an out-of-control algorithm or erroneous trade. In part, this is because applying risk controls before the start of a trade can slow down an order, and high-speed trading firms are often under enormous pressure to route their orders to the exchange quickly so as to capture a trade at the desired price.

Another area of concern is that some firms do not have stringent processes for the development, testing, and deployment of code used in their trading algorithms. For example, a few trading firms interviewed said they deploy new trading strategies quickly by tweaking old code and placing it into production in a matter of minutes.

Chicago Fed staff also found that out-of-control algorithms were more common than anticipated prior to the study and that there were no clear patterns as to their cause. Two of the four clearing BDs/FCMs, two-thirds of proprietary trading firms, and every exchange interviewed had experienced one or more errant algorithms.

To sum things up, the well being of the entire world economy is now in the hands of greedy, incompetent corrupt insiders who will do anything to achieve a profit. The regulators are all off on a permanent vacation. (The Federal Reserve does not regulate HFT.) What could possibly go wrong?"
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Former IBM Japan President Otoshi charged for taking up-skirt pictures

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "Takuma Otoshi was the President of IBM Japan from 1999 to 2008, and had an ongoing senior adviser position until his recent arrest. According to Toyko police reports:

Police records say that around 8:00 AM on August 22nd, Ototshi was cited for violating Tokyo’s public nuisance ordinance by using his Apple iPod’s recording function to film up the skirt of a woman as she rode an escalator at the JR Yotsuya Station. A nearby male commuter is said to have witnessed what happened and told the station’s authorities. Investigators say once Otoshi’s iPod was checked, they found a number of incriminating pictures.

Does this mean that IBM endorses the IPod?"
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Hunters Shoot Down Drone of Animal Rights Group

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "A remote control drone operated by an animal rights group was shot down in South Carolina by a group of thwarted hunters.
Steve Hindi, the group president said "his group was preparing to launch its Mikrokopter drone to video what he called a live pigeon shoot on Sunday when law enforcement officers and an attorney claiming to represent the privately-owned plantation near Ehrhardt tried to stop the aircraft from flying." After the shoot was halted, the drone was launched anyway, and at this point it was shot down. "Seconds after it hit the air, numerous shots rang out," Hindi said in the release. "As an act of revenge for us shutting down the pigeon slaughter, they had shot down our copter." "It is important to note how dangerous this was, as they were shooting toward and into a well-travelled highway," Hindi stated in the release."

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Sea water can cause uranium polution from fuel rod

Required Snark Required Snark writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Required Snark (1702878) writes "UC Davis researchers have found a mechanism where the sodium in sea water can cause uranium nano-particles to be released from nuclear reactor fuel rods. Normally the uranium oxide compounds composing the rods are very resistant to leaching into water. This could have serious consequences for the Fukushima disaster, since sea water was used for emergency cooling."
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