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Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Runaway1956 Re:The universe does not need us.... (312 comments)

"No matter how far we travel, I expect a lot of cultural baggage will come with us, and a lot of our irrational behavior is hard-wired into our brains."

Futuristic combat story tellers would agree with you. You might try David Drake. His own story is interesting, and his Hammer's Slammers stories were written as a sort of rehabilitation. There are a lot of Slammer's stories - you might like to start with Redliners.

http://david-drake.com/tag/red...

4 days ago
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Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Runaway1956 Re:There isn't enough rubles in Moscow (312 comments)

In the history of mankind, I've only heard stories of a couple of people who didn't die. In fact, most people die horrible deaths. That fact won't change, no matter how far mankind travels - or doesn't travel. If we manage to cure cancer, and all mankind's other ills, that will be great. But, I don't believe that we ever will. Even if we cured the five most lethal diseases that we know of today, there will be something new to worry about tomorrow. We have been waging biological warfare against nature since the earliest ancestor crawled out of that primordial soup, and nature will continue that war until the last man and woman have died.

There is no utopian solution to poverty, hunger, and disease. I simply don't believe in such a solution. The past hundred years or so have been remarkable victories for mankind, but there is simply no reason to suspect that we will see no setbacks. Polio has been defeated, mumps, measles, and others have been set back seriously, but we are breeding new superkiller bugs in our hospitals and medical centers right now. Oh - the flu. It mutates and changes rapidly - we could experience another 1918 at any time. What was the number? 21 million dead, around the world, I believe? With our population levels today, the next time around could see those numbers increased by a couple orders of magnitude.

Life is precarious. If you are a Russian, I would suspect that you are more aware of that fact than I should be.

5 days ago
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Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Runaway1956 Re:There isn't enough rubles in Moscow (312 comments)

Your view, and mine, are diametrically opposed. To me, there can be nothing more important than getting mankind established in places off the face of the earth. We have plenty of evidence of big rocks striking the earth in the past, and we have plenty of evidence of major extinction events. Throughout all of our history, we have kept all of our eggs in one basket. We need to distribute our eggs into as many baskets as we possibly can.

There are reasons to dislike Russia's government - but this is one great reason to salute and respect Russia's government. I support any and every effort that can possibly result in distributing those eggs.

5 days ago
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Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Runaway1956 Re:Talk is cheap (312 comments)

First we had an omnipotent Bush who took blame for things that happened long before he became president. Now, we have a super-omnipotent Obama.

Obama was a young punk, still wet behind the ears, when the United States decided to scrap all it's moon and deeper space capabilities in favor of a dumb ass space plane concept. A shuttle was a pretty cool idea - as a means to an end. The shuttles should have been there to service the REAL exploration efforts. But, instead, the shuttle program became an end, in and of itself, and the larger programs were simply ignored, and filed in the circular file.

5 days ago
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Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Runaway1956 Re:There isn't enough rubles in Moscow (312 comments)

If Russians have the will to go to the moon, then they are miles ahead of us. The American people, and especially the American politicians, lack the will.

Perhaps you would like to debate the ultimate weapon now?

5 days ago
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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

Runaway1956 Re:I doubt "no one knew" (119 comments)

"Bribery and deceit are fairly ineffective at effecting long-term policies."

Do the railroads in the United States still possess the land that they stole for pennies on the hundreds of dollars when the iron horse was proposed?

5 days ago
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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

Runaway1956 Re:Is it: "Don't Be More Than 49% Evil" Now? (119 comments)

Okay - you think Google is evil. I'm less happy with Google than I was in years past, but I'm still willing to argue that assessment.

Which entity would you choose to replace Google today? You may choose any government, corporate, or nonprofit entity you wish. Look around, and choose carefully. You may pick that entity, you may strip Google of all it's resources, and hand those resources over to that entity. Which one is going to do better than Google? If you should bother to post back with a reply, PLEASE offer some rationale for your decision. And - be prepared to have your decision torn apart.

At this point in time, I honestly believe that Google is still pretty damned good, and that they have a ways to go before you can call them "evil". I am also pretty damned sure that I don't want the federal government or any of it's agencies running Google's assets. I can't think of any company that could do a better job, and certainly none that would. Nonprofits? Maybe if the EFF were interested . . . Let's not EVEN consider any religious organizations, whether it be my favorite, or yours.

5 days ago
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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

Runaway1956 Re:power honeypot (119 comments)

"I don't want to "weaken government", I want to weaken the federal government."

In theory, I agree with you. The feds have gotten far to fat and powerful, in all aspects. Transportation, communication, education, commerce, intelligence, first amendment and second amendment rights, every thing.

Got any ideas, though? Let's set aside any utopian views. Let's pretty much ignore how things "should have been". Right now, today, in the real world, how do we go about limiting any aspect of government control in our lives? Can it be done? What will it take to effect any change, how can governmental control be weakened?

A lot of people are beginning to believe that it will take a revolution of some sort. Witness events near Las Vegas in recent weeks. https://www.google.com/search?...

5 days ago
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The GNOME Foundation Is Running Out of Money

Runaway1956 Re:Funny (689 comments)

Now, please, pass that word on to the rest of Silly Con Valley. You might nudge Google when you pass that word on. Few of us give a small goddamn about some coder's preferred perversions - just shut up and code!

5 days ago
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The GNOME Foundation Is Running Out of Money

Runaway1956 Re:Funny (689 comments)

You're new here, aren't you?

No, Slashcode isn't going to boot Anonymous Coward out of these discussions.

5 days ago
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The GNOME Foundation Is Running Out of Money

Runaway1956 Re:Does this mean no more Gnome desktop? (689 comments)

Respect is, after all, a two-way street.

First, we heard that Ubuntu was going to push a Metro-like desktop. Then, almost immediately afterward, we heard that Gnome was going to push a Metro-like desktop. All across the *nix world, there were protests that rapidly grew into revolutions against the concept, but neither Ubuntu nor Gnome could be dissuaded.

I feel a bit bad that Gnome is in financial straits today. But, there is no real depth to my sympathy. I'm managing quite well on this Mate desktop. Had Mate not come along, I would probably be bouncing back and forth between XFCE and E17. Or, more likely, I would have finally settled on an E17 configuration that I liked. There are SO MANY variables and decisions to make when configuring E, whereas Mate and most other desktops just offer a well rounded "default" when they are installed.

Oh - you were talking about respect. Gnome should be an object lesson for other projects. Don't just abandon or try to bully your dedicated fan base. Don't insult their intelligence. Respect your users, or your users will abandon you in turn.

5 days ago
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Bugs In SCADA Software Leave 7,600 Factories Vulnerable

Runaway1956 Re:Dumbasses (70 comments)

And, what happens with a MIM? Someone spoofs a cell phone tower, and intercepts your communications. They get the strong certificate, and they are in. Wireless communications (radio) has been known to be inherently insecure by the armed forces since the days of the first radios.

http://www.wired.com/2010/07/i...

about two weeks ago
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Bugs In SCADA Software Leave 7,600 Factories Vulnerable

Runaway1956 Re:Dumbasses (70 comments)

No, you, sir, have chosen not to understand. I am MOCKING every moron in the world who wants all that information to flow out over the intarwebs in real time. The "managers" at my plant choose passwords like "1234abcd". They think it's witty or something.

The fact is, our nation worries itself sick about cyberattacks, when there is no need to worry.

JUST DISCONNECT ALL THAT CRAP FROM THE WEB!!

As for passwords, encryption, or any other security measures, recent events have pretty much demonstrated that the government works against all of our best interests. Do they really have backdoors into encryption methods, do they really have the source code to popular operating systems? Can they really waltz into your network, undetected, at will? And, if gubbermint can do it, why can't anyone else?

about two weeks ago
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Bugs In SCADA Software Leave 7,600 Factories Vulnerable

Runaway1956 Dumbasses (70 comments)

Boys and girls, SCADA IS A FRIGGING BUG!!

Let's think about this for just a second or ten. I own a corporation that has produced products for a century or more. In the old days, people did EVERYTHING by hand. Then, along came the assembly line - making things easier and faster. Then came automation. At each stage, my corporation has been pretty secure. Then, along comes this newfangled internet thing. Every Tom, Dick, and Javier in the world can get on this internet thing, and play Hack-a-Day with any device they can possibly connect to.

Suddenly, all the investors expect me to connect all my robots and crap to this INTERNET?!?!?! What are they, frigging CRAZY? They expect me to expose my hardware to this huge-ass Hack-a-Day game?

No thanks. Those bugs for brains executives and investors who think this is a good idea are all security risks, and I need to boot their asses OUT!!

about two weeks ago
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Indie Game Jam Show Collapses Due To Interference From "Pepsi Consultant"

Runaway1956 Re:Fuck Pepsi and fuck beta!! (465 comments)

To much information. Please don't tell us the rest of your life!

about two weeks ago
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Indie Game Jam Show Collapses Due To Interference From "Pepsi Consultant"

Runaway1956 Re:Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra (465 comments)

It does NOT mean that they ate their tools. You may down a few beers, but you may not down your tools.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Promises Not To Snoop Through Email

Runaway1956 Re:Translation: (144 comments)

Jeremiah Cornelius! Now, you confess that you were reading my mind! I clicked the link just to tell everyone how much better I feel after Microsoft promised not to read my mail - and you sneaked in here ahead of me to post my thoughts! You psy guys should be ashamed of yourselves!

about three weeks ago
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Florida Judge Rules IP Address Can't Identify a BitTorrent Pirate

Runaway1956 Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (158 comments)

You are still presuming that some third party has the right and/or authority to dictate what my ISP may or may not allow. We have arrived at the point we are at today, because the MAFIAA's of the world have bullied the world into believing that they have some kind of authority.

In an ideal world, where your rights are actually respected, the MAFIAA's would be required to present each and every case of "piracy" to a court before the court would issue a subpoena to the ISP to reveal any customer's identity. Then, and only then, could the MAFIAA initiate a suit against you - just you, not a long list of John Does.

What would happen here is, the MAFIAA would have to spend a considerable sum of money on each and every prosecution, so they would ONLY go after big time operators who were profiting from the piracy, and actually cutting into their profits.

This whole business of using some torrent logs to demand the identities of thousands of people to mail extortion demands is preposterous. Everything in the system is just wrong today.

And any rational person can readily understand that the MAFIAA's are outright lying anyway. Each and every year, the MPAA posts record breaking profits. If piracy were damaging the MPAA, they couldn't break each new record the following year again. They would be posting LOSSES!

about three weeks ago
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Florida Judge Rules IP Address Can't Identify a BitTorrent Pirate

Runaway1956 Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (158 comments)

That sounds fair enough, until a MAFIAA starts sending out thousands of subpoenas that all must be answered at the witness' expense. Each and every person must travel to a venue of the MAFIAA's choosing, just to be deposed? Huh-uh, that doesn't sound right to me.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Drone-Ethics Briefing: What a Leading Robot Expert

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "Last month, philosopher Patrick Lin delivered this briefing about the ethics of drones at an event hosted by In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture-capital arm. It's a thorough and unnerving survey of what it might mean for the intelligence service to deploy different kinds of robots.

This story is very definitely NOT like Asimov's robotic laws! As fine a mind as Isaac Asimov had, his Robot stories seem a bit naive, in view of where we are headed with robotics!"

Link to Original Source
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The Deadly Microsoft Embrace

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "The Tamil Nadu government is adding costly MS software to laptops meant for poor students. It could cost Rs 10,200 Crore and hamper student growth.

I'm reminded of Bill Gates saying, "As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

Social engineering, at it's worst!"

Link to Original Source
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Salutes to past generations

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "Chief Petty Officer Charles Choules
Chief Petty Officer Charles Choules, who died in Australia on May 5 aged 110, was the last surviving man to have seen action in the First World War.

On the outbreak of war in 1914 he tried to join the British Army as a boy bugler by lying about his age. Instead he was sent in 1915 to the boys' training ship Mercury, under the headmastership the athlete CB Fry, moored in the Hamble river. He then completed his training in the former 140-gun wooden Impregnable, berthed in the Hamoaze. He was still in her when he heard the news of the battle of Jutland.

In October 1917 he joined the 40,000-ton battleship Revenge as a boy seaman, first class. The ship had fired more than a hundred 15in shells at Jutland, and Choules's next ship was another veteran of the battle, the fast battleship Valiant.

Choules witnessed the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet off the Firth of Forth in November 1918 and King George V's review of the fleet at Southend in 1919."

Link to Original Source
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Sony PlayStation Network Breached, 77 Million User

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Runaway1956 (1322357) writes "Sony is warning its millions of PlayStation Network users to watch out for identity-theft scams after hackers breached its security and plundered the user names, passwords, addresses, birth dates, and other information used to register accounts. Sony’s stunning admission came six days after the PlayStation Network was taken down following what the company described as an “external intrusion”.

The stolen information may also include payment-card data, purchase history, billing addresses, and security answers used to change passwords, Sony said on Tuesday. The company plans to keep the hacked system offline for the time being, and to restore services gradually. The advisory also applies to users of Sony’s related Qriocity network.

In short, Sony has been pwned — AGAIN!"

Link to Original Source
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Biowarfare on Malaria

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "Discovery.com has an article: For years scientists have known that mosquitoes, fruit flies and other insects infected with Wolbachia live about half as long as their uninfected counterparts. Scientists have also known that infected animals have dramatically lower transmission rates for a number of diseases. What scientists didn't know is why the Wolbachia-infected insects lived half as long, or why they were less likely to pass on diseases to humans. Sinkins and his colleagues have now answered a large part of both questions. The mosquitoes' immune system, already in overdrive because of the Wolbachia infection, destroyed as much as 100 percent of all the nematodes.Presumably malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and other diseases will be similarly destroyed, although more testing is required to definitively prove the effectiveness of this method, said Sinkins. For public health officials, the next trick is getting the Wolbachia into the mosquitoes more easily. Alternative link here."
Link to Original Source
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Microsoft's secret 'screw Google' meetings in D.C.

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "Microsoft's chief Washington lobbyist has been convening regular meetings attended by the company's outside consultants that have become known by some beltway insiders as "screw Google" meetings, DailyFinance has learned. The meetings are part of an ongoing campaign by Microsoft (MSFT), other Google (GOOG) opponents, and hired third parties to discredit the Web search leader, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter. "Microsoft is at the center of a group of companies who see Google as a threat to them in some combination of business and policy," said a source familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to avoid retribution. "The effort is designed make Google look like the big high-tech bad guy here." Read TFA people"
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Marg bar Russiye (Death to Russia)

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Runaway1956 writes ""Death to Russia" Traditionally at Friday Prayer, people are encouraged to chant "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" but today, they defiantly shouted "Death to Russia", in referring to opposition accusations that Russia has been involved in training repression forces of the regime. globalvoiceonline One blogger writing on Twitter said that this incident was one of a number of taboos that have now been broken by the protesters and explained it this way: Ignoring hate-shouter @ friday serm. & NOT chanting what he says. He: "Marg bar Amrika" — We: "Marg bar Russiye" Theledeblogs Russia, Ahmadinejad and Iran Reconsidered Stratfor.com At Friday prayers July 17 at Tehran University, the influential cleric and former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani gave his first sermon since Iran's disputed presidential election and the subsequent demonstrations. The crowd listening to Rafsanjani inside the mosque was filled with Ahmadinejad supporters who chanted, among other things, "Death to America" and "Death to China." Outside the university common grounds, anti-Ahmadinejad elements — many of whom were blocked by Basij militiamen and police from entering the mosque — persistently chanted "Death to Russia." Death to America is an old staple in Iran. Death to China had to do with the demonstrations in Xinjiang and the death of Uighurs at the hands of the Chinese. Death to Russia, however, stood out. Clearly, its use was planned before the protesters took to the streets. The meaning of this must be uncovered. To begin to do that, we must consider the political configuration in Iran at the moment. Russia Ahmadinejad and Iran In the last link, Freidman goes on to draw parallels between the Orange Revolution, and the current "Green Revolution" in Iran. Interestingly, he suggests that maybe to some extent, at least, the US may have given some support to Rafsanjani and Mousavi. He also shows pretty clearly that Russia assisted before and during the demonstrations — and that Ahmadinejab is indebted to the Russians. Maybe, too, we need to stop calling for the heads of every American and European company that has sold modern tech to the Iranian government in recent years. Yeah, we may have made Russian advisor's jobs easier with all that tech, but they would have been doing the job anyway. Another article on slashdot today pointed out that the "electronic repression" in Iran is quite different than that found in China, and poses challenges to hackers that they've never seen before. Which makes sense, if Russia is getting into the cyber warfare front. As with any open source project, more minds tend to make things more interesting."
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The lowdown on the Iranian "uprising"

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "By George Friedman Speaking of the situation in Iran, U.S. President Barack Obama said June 26, "We don't yet know how any potential dialogue will have been affected until we see what has happened inside of Iran." On the surface that is a strange statement, since we know that with minor exceptions, the demonstrations in Tehran lost steam after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for them to end and security forces asserted themselves. By the conventional wisdom, events in Iran represent an oppressive regime crushing a popular rising. If so, it is odd that the U.S. president would raise the question of what has happened in Iran. In reality, Obama's point is well taken. This is because the real struggle in Iran has not yet been settled, nor was it ever about the liberalization of the regime. Rather, it has been about the role of the clergy — particularly the old-guard clergy — in Iranian life, and the future of particular personalities among this clergy. Ahmadinejad Against the Clerical Elite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ran his re-election campaign against the old clerical elite, charging them with corruption, luxurious living and running the state for their own benefit rather than that of the people. He particularly targeted Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an extremely senior leader, and his family. Indeed, during the demonstrations, Rafsanjani's daughter and four other relatives were arrested, held and then released a day later. Rafsanjani represents the class of clergy that came to power in 1979. He served as president from 1989-1997, but Ahmadinejad defeated him in 2005. Rafsanjani carries enormous clout within the system as head of the regime's two most powerful institutions — the Expediency Council, which arbitrates between the Guardian Council and parliament, and the Assembly of Experts, whose powers include oversight of the supreme leader. Forbes has called him one of the wealthiest men in the world. Rafsanjani, in other words, remains at the heart of the post-1979 Iranian establishment. Ahmadinejad expressly ran his recent presidential campaign against Rafsanjani, using the latter's family's vast wealth to discredit Rafsanjani along with many of the senior clerics who dominate the Iranian political scene. It was not the regime as such that he opposed, but the individuals who currently dominate it. Ahmadinejad wants to retain the regime, but he wants to repopulate the leadership councils with clerics who share his populist values and want to revive the ascetic foundations of the regime. The Iranian president constantly contrasts his own modest lifestyle with the opulence of the current religious leadership. Recognizing the threat Ahmadinejad represented to him personally and to the clerical class he belongs to, Rafsanjani fired back at Ahmadinejad, accusing him of having wrecked the economy. At his side were other powerful members of the regime, including Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, who has made no secret of his antipathy toward Ahmadinejad and whose family links to the Shiite holy city of Qom give him substantial leverage. The underlying issue was about the kind of people who ought to be leading the clerical establishment. The battlefield was economic: Ahmadinejad's charges of financial corruption versus charges of economic mismanagement leveled by Rafsanjani and others. When Ahmadinejad defeated Mir Hossein Mousavi on the night of the election, the clerical elite saw themselves in serious danger. The margin of victory Ahmadinejad claimed might have given him the political clout to challenge their position. Mousavi immediately claimed fraud, and Rafsanjani backed him up. Whatever the motives of those in the streets, the real action was a knife fight between Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani. By the end of the week, Khamenei decided to end the situation. In essence, he tried to hold things together by ordering the demonstrations to halt while throwing a bone to Rafsanjani and Mousavi by extending a probe into the election irregularities and postponing a partial recount by five days. The Struggle Within the Regime The key to understanding the situation in Iran is realizing that the past weeks have seen not an uprising against the regime, but a struggle within the regime. Ahmadinejad is not part of the establishment, but rather has been struggling against it, accusing it of having betrayed the principles of the Islamic Revolution. The post-election unrest in Iran therefore was not a matter of a repressive regime suppressing liberals (as in Prague in 1989), but a struggle between two Islamist factions that are each committed to the regime, but opposed to each other. The demonstrators certainly included Western-style liberalizing elements, but they also included adherents of senior clerics who wanted to block Ahmadinejad's re-election. And while Ahmadinejad undoubtedly committed electoral fraud to bulk up his numbers, his ability to commit unlimited fraud was blocked, because very powerful people looking for a chance to bring him down were arrayed against him. The situation is even more complex because it is not simply a fight between Ahmadinejad and the clerics, but also a fight among the clerical elite regarding perks and privileges — and Ahmadinejad is himself being used within this infighting. The Iranian president's populism suits the interests of clerics who oppose Rafsanjani; Ahmadinejad is their battering ram. But as Ahmadinejad increases his power, he could turn on his patrons very quickly. In short, the political situation in Iran is extremely volatile, just not for the reason that the media portrayed. Rafsanjani is an extraordinarily powerful figure in the establishment who clearly sees Ahmadinejad and his faction as a mortal threat. Ahmadinejad's ability to survive the unified opposition of the clergy, election or not, is not at all certain. But the problem is that there is no unified clergy. The supreme leader is clearly trying to find a new political balance while making it clear that public unrest will not be tolerated. Removing "public unrest" (i.e., demonstrations) from the tool kits of both sides may take away one of Rafsanjani's more effective tools. But ultimately, it actually could benefit him. Should the internal politics move against the Iranian president, it would be Ahmadinejad — who has a substantial public following — who would not be able to have his supporters take to the streets. The View From the West The question for the rest of the world is simple: Does it matter who wins this fight? We would argue that the policy differences between Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani are minimal and probably would not affect Iran's foreign relations. This fight simply isn't about foreign policy. Rafsanjani has frequently been held up in the West as a pragmatist who opposes Ahmadinejad's radicalism. Rafsanjani certainly opposes Ahmadinejad and is happy to portray the Iranian president as harmful to Iran, but it is hard to imagine significant shifts in foreign policy if Rafsanjani's faction came out on top. Khamenei has approved Iran's foreign policy under Ahmadinejad, and Khamenei works to maintain broad consensus on policies. Ahmadinejad's policies were vetted by Khamenei and the system that Rafsanjani is part of. It is possible that Rafsanjani secretly harbors different views, but if he does, anyone predicting what these might be is guessing. Rafsanjani is a pragmatist in the sense that he systematically has accumulated power and wealth. He seems concerned about the Iranian economy, which is reasonable because he owns a lot of it. Ahmadinejad's entire charge against him is that Rafsanjani is only interested in his own economic well-being. These political charges notwithstanding, Rafsanjani was part of the 1979 revolution, as were Ahmadinejad and the rest of the political and clerical elite. It would be a massive mistake to think that any leadership elements have abandoned those principles. When the West looks at Iran, two concerns are expressed. The first relates to the Iranian nuclear program, and the second relates to Iran's support for terrorists, particularly Hezbollah. Neither Iranian faction is liable to abandon either, because both make geopolitical sense for Iran and give it regional leverage. Tehran's primary concern is regime survival, and this has two elements. The first is deterring an attack on Iran, while the second is extending Iran's reach so that such an attack could be countered. There are U.S. troops on both sides of the Islamic Republic, and the United States has expressed hostility to the regime. The Iranians are envisioning a worst-case scenario, assuming the worst possible U.S. intentions, and this will remain true no matter who runs the government. We do not believe that Iran is close to obtaining a nuclear weapon, a point we have made frequently. Iran understands that the actual acquisition of a nuclear weapon would lead to immediate U.S. or Israeli attacks. Accordingly, Iran's ideal position is to be seen as developing nuclear weapons, but not close to having them. This gives Tehran a platform for bargaining without triggering Iran's destruction, a task at which it has proved sure-footed. In addition, Iran has maintained capabilities in Iraq and Lebanon. Should the United States or Israel attack, Iran would thus be able to counter by doing everything possible destabilize Iraq — bogging down U.S. forces there — while simultaneously using Hezbollah's global reach to carry out terror attacks. After all, Hezbollah is today's al Qaeda on steroids. The radical Shiite group's ability, coupled with that of Iranian intelligence, is substantial. We see no likelihood that any Iranian government would abandon this two-pronged strategy without substantial guarantees and concessions from the West. Those would have to include guarantees of noninterference in Iranian affairs. Obama, of course, has been aware of this bedrock condition, which is why he went out of his way before the election to assure Khamenei in a letter that the United States had no intention of interfering. Though Iran did not hesitate to lash out at CNN's coverage of the protests, the Iranians know that the U.S. government doesn't control CNN's coverage. But Tehran takes a slightly different view of the BBC. The Iranians saw the depiction of the demonstrations as a democratic uprising against a repressive regime as a deliberate attempt by British state-run media to inflame the situation. This allowed the Iranians to vigorously blame some foreigner for the unrest without making the United States the primary villain. But these minor atmospherics aside, we would make three points. First, there was no democratic uprising of any significance in Iran. Second, there is a major political crisis within the Iranian political elite, the outcome of which probably tilts toward Ahmadinejad but remains uncertain. Third, there will be no change in the substance of Iran's foreign policy, regardless of the outcome of this fight. The fantasy of a democratic revolution overthrowing the Islamic Republic — and thus solving everyone's foreign policy problems a la the 1991 Soviet collapse — has passed. That means that Obama, as the primary player in Iranian foreign affairs, must now define an Iran policy — particularly given Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's meeting in Washington with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell this Monday. Obama has said that nothing that has happened in Iran makes dialogue impossible, but opening dialogue is easier said than done. The Republicans consistently have opposed an opening to Iran; now they are joined by Democrats, who oppose dialogue with nations they regard as human rights violators. Obama still has room for maneuver, but it is not clear where he thinks he is maneuvering. The Iranians have consistently rejected dialogue if it involves any preconditions. But given the events of the past weeks, and the perceptions about them that have now been locked into the public mind, Obama isn't going to be able to make many concessions. It would appear to us that in this, as in many other things, Obama will be following the Bush strategy — namely, criticizing Iran without actually doing anything about it. And so he goes to Moscow more aware than ever that Russia could cause the United States a great deal of pain if it proceeded with weapons transfers to Iran, a country locked in a political crisis and unlikely to emerge from it in a pleasant state of mind. Tell STRATFOR What You Think This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to www.stratfor.com"
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A rational look at the Iranian election

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "The Iranian Election and the Revolution Test By George Friedman Related Link * The Geopolitics of Iran: Holding the Center of a Mountain Fortress Related Special Topic Page * Ongoing Coverage and Updates Successful revolutions have three phases. First, a strategically located single or limited segment of society begins vocally to express resentment, asserting itself in the streets of a major city, usually the capital. This segment is joined by other segments in the city and by segments elsewhere as the demonstration spreads to other cities and becomes more assertive, disruptive and potentially violent. As resistance to the regime spreads, the regime deploys its military and security forces. These forces, drawn from resisting social segments and isolated from the rest of society, turn on the regime, and stop following the regime's orders. This is what happened to the Shah of Iran in 1979; it is also what happened in Russia in 1917 or in Romania in 1989. Revolutions fail when no one joins the initial segment, meaning the initial demonstrators are the ones who find themselves socially isolated. When the demonstrations do not spread to other cities, the demonstrations either peter out or the regime brings in the security and military forces — who remain loyal to the regime and frequently personally hostile to the demonstrators — and use force to suppress the rising to the extent necessary. This is what happened in Tiananmen Square in China: The students who rose up were not joined by others. Military forces who were not only loyal to the regime but hostile to the students were brought in, and the students were crushed. A Question of Support This is also what happened in Iran this week. The global media, obsessively focused on the initial demonstrators — who were supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's opponents — failed to notice that while large, the demonstrations primarily consisted of the same type of people demonstrating. Amid the breathless reporting on the demonstrations, reporters failed to notice that the uprising was not spreading to other classes and to other areas. In constantly interviewing English-speaking demonstrators, they failed to note just how many of the demonstrators spoke English and had smartphones. The media thus did not recognize these as the signs of a failing revolution. Later, when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke Friday and called out the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, they failed to understand that the troops — definitely not drawn from what we might call the "Twittering classes," would remain loyal to the regime for ideological and social reasons. The troops had about as much sympathy for the demonstrators as a small-town boy from Alabama might have for a Harvard postdoc. Failing to understand the social tensions in Iran, the reporters deluded themselves into thinking they were witnessing a general uprising. But this was not St. Petersburg in 1917 or Bucharest in 1989 — it was Tiananmen Square. In the global discussion last week outside Iran, there was a great deal of confusion about basic facts. For example, it is said that the urban-rural distinction in Iran is not critical any longer because according to the United Nations, 68 percent of Iranians are urbanized. This is an important point because it implies Iran is homogeneous and the demonstrators representative of the country. The problem is the Iranian definition of urban — and this is quite common around the world — includes very small communities (some with only a few thousand people) as "urban." But the social difference between someone living in a town with 10,000 people and someone living in Tehran is the difference between someone living in Bastrop, Texas and someone living in New York. We can assure you that that difference is not only vast, but that most of the good people of Bastrop and the fine people of New York would probably not see the world the same way. The failure to understand the dramatic diversity of Iranian society led observers to assume that students at Iran's elite university somehow spoke for the rest of the country. Tehran proper has about 8 million inhabitants; its suburbs bring it to about 13 million people out of Iran's total population of 70.5 million. Tehran accounts for about 20 percent of Iran, but as we know, the cab driver and the construction worker are not socially linked to students at elite universities. There are six cities with populations between 1 million and 2.4 million people and 11 with populations of about 500,000. Including Tehran proper, 15.5 million people live in cities with more than 1 million and 19.7 million in cities greater than 500,000. Iran has 80 cities with more than 100,000. But given that Waco, Texas, has more than 100,000 people, inferences of social similarities between cities with 100,000 and 5 million are tenuous. And with metro Oklahoma City having more than a million people, it becomes plain that urbanization has many faces. Winning the Election With or Without Fraud We continue to believe two things: that vote fraud occurred, and that Ahmadinejad likely would have won without it. Very little direct evidence has emerged to establish vote fraud, but several things seem suspect. For example, the speed of the vote count has been taken as a sign of fraud, as it should have been impossible to count votes that fast. The polls originally were to have closed at 7 p.m. local time, but voting hours were extended until 10 p.m. because of the number of voters in line. By 11:45 p.m. about 20 percent of the vote had been counted. By 5:20 a.m. the next day, with almost all votes counted, the election commission declared Ahmadinejad the winner. The vote count thus took about seven hours. (Remember there were no senators, congressmen, city council members or school board members being counted — just the presidential race.) Intriguingly, this is about the same time in took in 2005, though reformists that claimed fraud back then did not stress the counting time in their allegations. The counting mechanism is simple: Iran has 47,000 voting stations, plus 14,000 roaming stations that travel from tiny village to tiny village, staying there for a short time before moving on. That creates 61,000 ballot boxes designed to receive roughly the same number of votes. That would mean that each station would have been counting about 500 ballots, or about 70 votes per hour. With counting beginning at 10 p.m., concluding seven hours later does not necessarily indicate fraud or anything else. The Iranian presidential election system is designed for simplicity: one race to count in one time zone, and all counting beginning at the same time in all regions, we would expect the numbers to come in a somewhat linear fashion as rural and urban voting patterns would balance each other out — explaining why voting percentages didn't change much during the night. It has been pointed out that some of the candidates didn't even carry their own provinces or districts. We remember that Al Gore didn't carry Tennessee in 2000. We also remember Ralph Nader, who also didn't carry his home precinct in part because people didn't want to spend their vote on someone unlikely to win — an effect probably felt by the two smaller candidates in the Iranian election. That Mousavi didn't carry his own province is more interesting. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett writing in Politico make some interesting points on this. As an ethnic Azeri, it was assumed that Mousavi would carry his Azeri-named and -dominated home province. But they also point out that Ahmadinejad also speaks Azeri, and made multiple campaign appearances in the district. They also point out that Khamenei is Azeri. In sum, winning that district was by no means certain for Mousavi, so losing it does not automatically signal fraud. It raised suspicions, but by no means was a smoking gun. We do not doubt that fraud occurred during Iranian election. For example, 99.4 percent of potential voters voted in Mazandaran province, a mostly secular area home to the shah's family. Ahmadinejad carried the province by a 2.2 to 1 ratio. That is one heck of a turnout and level of support for a province that lost everything when the mullahs took over 30 years ago. But even if you take all of the suspect cases and added them together, it would not have changed the outcome. The fact is that Ahmadinejad's vote in 2009 was extremely close to his victory percentage in 2005. And while the Western media portrayed Ahmadinejad's performance in the presidential debates ahead of the election as dismal, embarrassing and indicative of an imminent electoral defeat, many Iranians who viewed those debates — including some of the most hardcore Mousavi supporters — acknowledge that Ahmadinejad outperformed his opponents by a landslide. Mousavi persuasively detailed his fraud claims Sunday, and they have yet to be rebutted. But if his claims of the extent of fraud were true, the protests should have spread rapidly by social segment and geography to the millions of people who even the central government asserts voted for him. Certainly, Mousavi supporters believed they would win the election based in part on highly flawed polls, and when they didn't, they assumed they were robbed and took to the streets. But critically, the protesters were not joined by any of the millions whose votes the protesters alleged were stolen. In a complete hijacking of the election by some 13 million votes by an extremely unpopular candidate, we would have expected to see the core of Mousavi's supporters joined by others who had been disenfranchised. On last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, when the demonstrations were at their height, the millions of Mousavi voters should have made their appearance. They didn't. We might assume that the security apparatus intimidated some, but surely more than just the Tehran professional and student classes posses civic courage. While appearing large, the demonstrations actually comprised a small fraction of society. Tensions Among the Political Elite All of this not to say there are not tremendous tensions within the Iranian political elite. That no revolution broke out does not mean there isn't a crisis in the political elite, particularly among the clerics. But that crisis does not cut the way Western common sense would have it. Many of Iran's religious leaders see Ahmadinejad as hostile to their interests, as threatening their financial prerogatives, and as taking international risks they don't want to take. Ahmadinejad's political popularity in fact rests on his populist hostility to what he sees as the corruption of the clerics and their families and his strong stand on Iranian national security issues. The clerics are divided among themselves, but many wanted to see Ahmadinejad lose to protect their own interests. Khamenei, the supreme leader, faced a difficult choice last Friday. He could demand a major recount or even new elections, or he could validate what happened. Khamenei speaks for a sizable chunk of the ruling elite, but also has had to rule by consensus among both clerical and non-clerical forces. Many powerful clerics like Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani wanted Khamenei to reverse the election, and we suspect Khamenei wished he could have found a way to do it. But as the defender of the regime, he was afraid to. Mousavi supporters' demonstrations would have been nothing compared to the firestorm among Ahmadinejad supporters — both voters and the security forces — had their candidate been denied. Khamenei wasn't going to flirt with disaster, so he endorsed the outcome. The Western media misunderstood this because they didn't understand that Ahmadinejad does not speak for the clerics but against them, that many of the clerics were working for his defeat, and that Ahmadinejad has enormous pull in the country's security apparatus. The reason Western media missed this is because they bought into the concept of the stolen election, therefore failing to see Ahmadinejad's support and the widespread dissatisfaction with the old clerical elite. The Western media simply didn't understand that the most traditional and pious segments of Iranian society support Ahmadinejad because he opposes the old ruling elite. Instead, they assumed this was like Prague or Budapest in 1989, with a broad-based uprising in favor of liberalism against an unpopular regime. Tehran in 2009, however, was a struggle between two main factions, both of which supported the Islamic republic as it was. There were the clerics, who have dominated the regime since 1979 and had grown wealthy in the process. And there was Ahmadinejad, who felt the ruling clerical elite had betrayed the revolution with their personal excesses. And there also was the small faction the BBC and CNN kept focusing on — the demonstrators in the streets who want to dramatically liberalize the Islamic republic. This faction never stood a chance of taking power, whether by election or revolution. The two main factions used the third smaller faction in various ways, however. Ahmadinejad used it to make his case that the clerics who supported them, like Rafsanjani, would risk the revolution and play into the hands of the Americans and British to protect their own wealth. Meanwhile, Rafsanjani argued behind the scenes that the unrest was the tip of the iceberg, and that Ahmadinejad had to be replaced. Khamenei, an astute politician, examined the data and supported Ahmadinejad. Now, as we saw after Tiananmen Square, we will see a reshuffling among the elite. Those who backed Mousavi will be on the defensive. By contrast, those who supported Ahmadinejad are in a powerful position. There is a massive crisis in the elite, but this crisis has nothing to do with liberalization: It has to do with power and prerogatives among the elite. Having been forced by the election and Khamenei to live with Ahmadinejad, some will make deals while some will fight — but Ahmadinejad is well-positioned to win this battle. Tell STRATFOR What You Think For Publication in Letters to STRATFOR Not For Publication This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to www.stratfor.com Please feel free to distribute this Intelligence Report to friends or repost to your Web site linking to www.stratfor.com."
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http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1081385.html

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "A German-Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people on board fended off a pirate attack far off the coast of Somalia on Saturday, in which the vessel's private Israeli security force exchanged fire with the bandits and drove them off, the ship's commander said yesterday. Cmdr. Ciro Pinto told Italian state radio that six men in a small white speed boat approached the cruise ship Melody and opened fire Saturday night, but retreated after the Israeli security officers aboard the cruise ship returned fire. "It felt like we were in a war," Pinto said. None of the approximately 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members were hurt, the Melody's owner, Msc Cruises, said in a statement issued by its German branch. Saturday's attack occurred about 325 kilometers north of the Seychelles, and about 800 kilometers east of Somalia, according to the anti-piracy flotilla headquarters of the Maritime Security Center (Horn of Africa). Domenico Pellegrino, head of the cruise line, said Msc Cruises hired the Israelis because they were the best-trained security staff, the ANSA news agency reported. Security work aboard cruise ships is very popular among young Israelis just out of the army; the job is seen as a chance to save money and travel at the same time. Hundreds of veterans and reservists of elite Israel Defense Force units, including the naval commandos, are employed in security work on cruise ships and oil rigs in areas subject to pirate attacks. As opposed to arms dealing, which requires Defense Ministry permits, there is no government follow-up on IDF veterans working in security worldwide, and therefore the exact number of veterans employed in the field is unknown. Veterans of the naval commando unit have been in very high demand after the September 11th terror attack on the Twin Towers, as shipping companies, like airlines, were required to upgrade the level of security on their ships. "When it comes to security on ships or oil rigs, it's not enough to know how to shoot and attack," said a former Israeli naval commando officer who has worked in security on ships. "There are other skills like [taking] action under difficult conditions at sea, operating radar and special marine security equipment, as well as knowing the weak points on ships of various sizes," the officer added. ___________________________________________________ It would seem that SOME shipping companies have seen the wisdom of carrying security personnel aboard ship. And, obviously, at least one captain saw the wisdom in repelling boarders. I guess those "astronomical" costs can pay off, after all."
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Global Warming: On Hold?

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "March 2, 2009 — For those who have endured this winter's frigid temperatures and today's heavy snowstorm in the Northeast, the concept of global warming may seem, well, almost wishful. But climate is known to be variable — a cold winter, or a few strung together doesn't mean the planet is cooling. Still, according to a new study, global warming may have hit a speed bump and could go into hiding for decades. Earth's climate continues to confound scientists. Following a 30-year trend of warming, global temperatures have flatlined since 2001 despite rising greenhouse gas concentrations, and a heat surplus that should have cranked up the planetary thermostat. "This is nothing like anything we've seen since 1950," Kyle Swanson of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said. "Cooling events since then had firm causes, like eruptions or large-magnitude La Ninas. This current cooling doesn't have one." ___________________________ So — it looks like Global Warming is rather like medical studies. Just this week, I've listened to a soundbyte informing me that the slightest amount of alcohol is deadly, two days later, another soundbyte let me know that a drink or two a day helps to combat cancers. Go figure."
Link to Original Source
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The president elect weekly statement

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Runaway1956 writes "The president elect, in his weekly statement to the nation, has promised to put more computers in schools, among other things. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGpIT2bVZDw&eurl=http://www.thenation.com/blogs/jstreet/388384/consider_me_stimulated?rel=sidebox&feature=player_embedded I visited his contact site, to send him a few lines. http://www.youtube.com/inbox?to_users=ChangeDotGov&action_compose=1 Please, every American who understands the benefits of Open Source should send him a message, to tell him of the virtues of Open Source. I need not list them for you — I won't give you a prepared form or any such thing. You are USING open source, you KNOW the benefits!! Try to convince him, and his advisors, that students who study Microsoft operating systems and Microsoft office systems are NOT getting a complete education. My own college age son, who is studying "computer science", is only learning what Microsoft deems appropriate for "consumers" to learn. In effect, he learns how to jump through hoops to make a computer happy. My high school aged son, on the other hand, is studying and learning open source at home, and he makes computers jump through hoops for HIM. If Obama is going to spend hundreds of millions, or even billions, on modernizing the internet, education, and more, then he needs to pave the way for ALTERNATIVES to Microsoft! As a security model alone, Microsoft systems are a complete failure. Corporate America has lost BILLIONS of dollars to exploits which will not run on Linux or other open source systems! Please — if you love computing, help to put Obama on the right track!! Runaway1956"

Journals

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Just thinking. (oh the pain)

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Oh yeah - I still has a journal. Again - how do all those people on my "Freaks" list get there? I KNOW that I haven't tagged that many people as such. I remember tagging one guy, way back when I was new here. The rest? What - if I argue another guy's point of view long enough, the system tags him for me? Whatever.

I've just fixed some woman's machine for her. A Dell, with WinXP on it. Her son-in-law decided to pirate Win7 and upgrade. It worked - Win7 installed, and I guess it ran nicely, except for the ugly black desktop. I grabbed a Dell OEM disk for XP Home, and reinstalled. No crapware - I didn't even stick that disk with "Extra Software" into the drive.

For security, I'm relying on Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Firewall - along with Spybot S&D and Spyware Blaster. IE6 is gone, replaced with IE8, and Firefox is installed. I'm stopping there - those security measures have proven sufficient in all my VM's and on the single Windows machine that I own. We'll just see how that all works in real life, with your average grandma type.

If I can remember that I has a journal, I'll post back here sometime.

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Mmmm-kay

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  about 5 years ago What good is the journal, really? I only really noticed the thing, due to Morgan Greywolf's open letter to his personal troll. (nice post, Morgan, but few trolls are equipped with a scrotum - if they were so equipped, they would regard it as excess baggage) Then there are the "freind" and "foe" tags. Blah. Am I to become someone's freind-or-foe, based on comments made on random subjects posted on the internet? Looks pretty pointless to me. Today, I posted a post that kinda makes fun of Morgan - tomorrow he'll post something I happen to agree with, so what do I do, change my mind and alter my freind-or-foe settings? Ehhh. Since I'm already running at the mouth, the mod system. Where is the mod, "You're an absolute frigging idiot, and you have never posted ONE WORD on /. that ANYONE thought made sense!" Collect ten of those mods, and your IP is banned for 20 years. The rest of the mod qualifiers are pretty stupid, IMO. For God's sake, I've been modded "insightful" a couple times, when there really wasn't any insight involved - I posted crap that is obvious to half the world, hoping that the OTHER half of the world might understand the obvious. Ho-hum. I'm finished blathering for awhile - if anyone cares what I put here, enjoy.

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Oh, I has a JOURNAL!

Runaway1956 Runaway1956 writes  |  about 5 years ago Dang, I didn't even realize there was such a beast here! I need to look at my family tree again, to be sure all those redheads weren't really blondes.

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