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Schneier: The US Government Has Betrayed the Internet, We Need To Take It Back

Weedlekin Re:The destruction of trust (397 comments)

The Geneva Conventions only apply when a state of war exists between a nation that has signed them and one or more sovereign countries. This is one of the reasons that modern politicians like to describe acts of bombing or invading somebody else's country as a "police action", "insurgency suppression operation", "humanitarian aid mission", or whatever other made-up name they can come up to avoid having to apply a bunch of inconvenient rules about wars that they agreed to abide by.

about a year ago

Ministry of Sound Suing Spotify Over User Playlists

Weedlekin Re:music is a list of notes (201 comments)

You cannot copyright a single binary number, but you can copyright a specific sequence of them, e.g. computer software, a movie on DVD, digital representations of text, digital photos, etc.

about a year ago

TV Show Piracy Soars After CBS Blackout

Weedlekin Re:Q.E.D. (314 comments)

I wonder if the same also applied to CDs back before services like iTunes? Was it actually the bands (and not the production companies) forcing their other 7 or 8 tracks of self-indulgent crap on us as their price for letting us hear their one good song?

I don't know how things work today, but when I was a session musician from the late 1970s until the mid 1980s, standard artist contracts obliged them to produce around 50 minutes of new recorded material each year. This doesn't sound like much, but up and coming artists had heavy touring and promotional schedules, so they often had difficulty finding enough time to write, arrange, and record 50 minutes of music (which could take several months just to record). That's why so many acts had a brilliant debut album followed by a disappointing one: the first album had the best stuff they'd writtten up to then, recorded by people who had an advance on royalties, and could spend all their time arranging and recording; while the subsequent one was put together while they were touring and promoting the first one, so it had a couple of strong tracks that couldn't fit onto the first album, plus some other stuff that both the artists and record company reckoned was mediocre, but would have to do because there was no oppotunity to write anything better.

1 year,14 days

First Ever Public Tasting of Lab-Grown Cultured Beef Burger

Weedlekin Re:dupe (303 comments)

Cheap vat-produced meat will reduce the demand for farm-produced meat, but there will still be a significant number of people who are willing to pay extra for the real thing, just like they do now with items that have "organic" labels on them. That together with large list of industrial, medical, and consumer products which come from livestock will ensure that they will continue to be economically viable for the forseeable future.

1 year,16 days

The Case of the Orca That Killed Its Trainer

Weedlekin Re:Almost all students of orca believe... (395 comments)

Some orcas like eating other mammals, but the vast majority eat fish, and will ignore anything that isn't a fish. Mammal hunting orca are equally prey-specific (i.e. they ignore fish), and given the fact that there are no notable physiological differences between the groups, it is likely that prey preferences together with effective hunting strategies are learned at an early age, and become ingrained.

And while it is true to say that most (but not all) sharks will eat fish, there are several species that actively hunt other sorts of prey, e.g. the great white's known propensity for seals and sealions; the tiger-shark's love of sea turtles; and the grey/bull/whaler (same shark, different names) which seems to be an equal opportunity hunter that can move freely between fresh and salt water, and is responsible for the majority of shark attacks on humans.

1 year,17 days

Android On the Desktop

Weedlekin Re:Learn From History. (247 comments)

Android right now is the most dominant OS for both Tablet and Smartphone, Markets that Microsoft(and Apple) have been in for forever (Androids first device was in 2008).

Correct, if of course one's definiton of "forever" is a year, because the iPhone was launched in 2007.

about a year ago

Patents Vs Innovation - the Tabarrok Curve

Weedlekin Re:Some fundamental, unchecked assumption here ? (210 comments)

Going back further to the dark ages, how much real innovation occurred when everyone was forced (by law, if not practical necessity) into being vassals under feudalism that subordinated everyone and everything to landed nobility and the Church? Yes, we had people like Kepler, Newton, and Galileo... and their contemporary influence was almost nonexistent. Their discoveries were talked about privately, behind closed doors, and most of their effort was spent trying to avoid getting crushed by those who cared mainly about preserving the status quo.

The dark ages was a time of significant innovation, e.g. the wheeled, adjustable pough; water mills; the horse collar; draw plates for making wire; the blast furnace; pointed and ribbed arches; the flying buttress; etc., etc., etc.

Kepler, Newton and Galileo did not live during the dark ages. All were well known during their lives, but only Galileo got into trouble over his publications, and it was the way his book was written rather than its scientific content that got him imprisoned (it featured a dialogue between a thinly veiled version of himself as the wise know-it-all, who expounds at length to an idiot who is obviously based on the pope, thereby humiliating and annoying a man who had been his friend since childhood). Kepler's problems in later life were due to his connection with Calvinists, not his scientific work, and Newton, contrary to being crushed, did quite well for himself.

Common people didn't know about their works because they were published in Latin, so the few commoners who were literate were unable to read them.

about a year ago

Patents Vs Innovation - the Tabarrok Curve

Weedlekin Re:Even more fundamental assumption (210 comments)

For every Newton you can cite, there were thousands of minstrels who didn't share their songs and blacksmiths, bakers, cobblers, stone masons, swordsmiths, etc. who didn't share their secrets. You used to have to be initiated into a guild to learn any of those things.

Most craft knowledge was lost through illiteracy, not guild protectionism. Few European countries in the Middle Ages had literacy rates in excess of 3%, so the chances of craft practices being written about were remote, because those who were literate had no notable interest in them. And while it is true that some guilds became powerful, they only existed on a local level, and their power came from letters of marque or letters patent from rulers that gave them a monopoly on the practice of a trade in a particular town or city. Not being a member of the correct guild within a jurisdiction meant that it was against the law to do whatever it was that the guild controlled, so the members of the guild grew rich because there was no competition for their services.

about a year ago

Patents Vs Innovation - the Tabarrok Curve

Weedlekin Re:Some fundamental, unchecked assumption here ? (210 comments)

It is not obvious because turning ideas into viable economic products is an aspect of the totality of innovation, not the entirety of it. So stenvar's question was completely correct, because while it is true that patents affect some types of innovation, they do not affect all of them, so they are not a regulation of innovation.

about a year ago

One Year Since Assange Took Refuge in Ecuadorian Embassy

Weedlekin Re:Solution (541 comments)

Gee, why didn't the stupid staff of Ecuador's London embassy think of this briliant plan? Could it be because, unlike you, they are aware of the fact that diplomatic immunity laws and customs do not mean that a host country's police are obliged to stand around while a diplomat breaks the law on that host country's territory?

about a year ago

One Year Since Assange Took Refuge in Ecuadorian Embassy

Weedlekin Re:This is so dumb (541 comments)

The joke is actually the number of bozos on Slashdot who are repeating the fallacy that arrest warrants in European countries (including the UK) require charges. They do not now, nor ever have, required charges -- indeed, the _vast_ majority of arrest warrants have been issued without any prior charges. I respectfully suggest that you and others of your ilk actually read up on European and UK law instead making posts that do nothing except display your ignorance of the subject.

about a year ago

How Ubiquitous Autonomous Cars Could Affect Society (Video)

Weedlekin Re:very good section in Jaron Lanier's new book (369 comments)

Was it really easier to make a living at music before the pre-napster days? I had some friends that formed a band and spend some time touring small venues in the pre-napster days, and they barely made enough money for food and gas. At least today they'd be able to make their own CD's to sell at shows, promote the band and publish their tour schedule online, and sell albums online to fans with no distribution costs (no need to sink thousands of dollars into pressing a big pile of CD's, then beg record store owners to sell them).

Maybe digital music makes it harder for studios today, but for the average musician, are things really worse?

Things are a lot worse for musicians nowadays than they were in pre-Napster days, but that's because there are significantly less venues for them to play in, and the rates which those that do exist pay for live music are lower than they used to be (actually lower, not just lower in real terms).

Of course, things are also a lot worse for all manner of retailers, manufacturers, and distributors of products that have nothing whatsoever to do with the entertainment industry. Most peoples' disposable income has been dropping steadily since 2007, and this combined with modern technology that lets them socialise, shop, and be entertained whenever and wherever it is most convenient for them means that they have less need to go out than was the case in the pre-Napster world, and less money to spend when they do. This has resulted in many of the venues that used to pay musicians having closed completely, or opted for cheaper types of entertainment such as DJs, Karaoke nights, etc. The few that still use live acts are therefore in a position of power where they can set their own rates and conditions, so it's by no means unusual for new bands who are starting out to not get paid at all, or be roped in to a "Battle Of The Bands" night where they actually pay the venue owner to perform.

So while the idea of selling CDs to fans and using social media to advertise gigs is fine in theory, a dearth of actual venues means that there are unilikely to be many gigs to advertise, and therefore few if any fans to buy those CDs.

about a year ago

Proposed Rule Would Drastically Restrict Chimp Research

Weedlekin Re:"benefit the survival of the species" (134 comments)

It can be easily shown that survival of the species does mean saving lives. That's just by definition of the word "survival."

Survival of a species means survival of genes, not individuals. Individual survival can be detrimental to species survival if the number of individuals becomes too large for its environment to support, in which case the species as a whole can become extinct.

Note also that civilization is new in both human and evolutionary terms (around 10,000 years old), so the jury is still out on whether it turns out to be something that helps with our long term species survival, or ends up being something whose short-term benefits were achieved at the cost of the species as a whole.

about a year ago

Proposed Rule Would Drastically Restrict Chimp Research

Weedlekin Re:Valid science isn't the only yardstick. (134 comments)

Some points: (1) All figures in the article are from organisations who are known for their exaggerated estimates (the article itself says that the figures are "inflated"); and (2) even if that were not the case, the 115,000 figure is for primates, the vast majority of which will have been monkeys that are specially bred for the purpose to ensure that they aren't carrying any diseases which could effect experimental results. Chimps are very rarely used as lab animals because they are slow breeders, and sexually mature chimps (without which they cannot be bred) require special enclosures and trained handlers, because pissed off adult chimps that get loose tend to rip peoples' faces off.

It should also be noted that vivisection and animal research are not the same thing at all, although the organisations who produced the figures would like us to think that they are. Biologists, geneticists, gerontologists, congitive and behaviour specialist, and various other types of scientist publish a large body of research every year which based on animals, many (but far from all) of which are in labs, but the very nature of the research precludes harming the subjects, either physically or psychologically. Given the history of the sources, I doubt that they even tried to filter out these types of research from their figures.

about a year ago

Woz Compares the Cloud and PRISM To Communist Russia

Weedlekin Re:FIrst Post Maybe? (549 comments)

You are forgetting that in a society where everything is communally owned, there is no need for organised violence to deal with uncooperative people. All they need to do is withdraw your right to access to the community's property (i.e. everything), because no matter how stubborn you are, helping a team to clean toilets for an hour a week will start look like a pretty pretty good deal after you've spent acouple of months living under a bridge and eating rotting food out of trash cans.

about a year ago

NSA Surveillance Heat Map: NSA Lied To Congress

Weedlekin Re:And we all know what will happen... (385 comments)

Communism (as described by Marx) is an entirely classles system in which there is no concept of personal property (everything is communally owned). An interesting effect of being classless is that states and governments cannot exist in a true communist system, because governments by their nature put some people above others, thereby introducing a separate class into a society that is by definition classless (i.e. everybody is de facto equal, not merely theoretically equal).

Fascism is a political system in which the state is embodied in a leader who occupies the post for life; everybody who is not part of its elite or their cronies is entirely subservient to that state. This includes the military, police, and judiciary, who are controlled by, and and exist for the benefit of the state, and it is common for them to swear allegiance to their leader, not the nation in which they live. Being seen as infallible by the population is considered to be vital in fascist states, so they strictly control the information that reaches their citizens, and will use propaganda to shift the blame for any failures too big to hide onto others such as foreign powers, minorities in their own countries, or partially or entirely manufactured enemies.

Note that the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba, North Vietnam, etc. were/are not, and never have been, communists, American propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding.

about a year ago

Tesla Motors Repays $465M Government Loan 9 Years Early

Weedlekin Re:That's pretty cool (446 comments)

Buses require a lot more energy to keep warm than cars though, because buses open their doors at two minute intervals (and on some routes, at 30 second intervals) , and leave them open while people faff around trying to find change that they could have sorted out while waiting for the bus, or when they were waiting in line for the dweebs in front of them to faff around trying to find change.

about a year ago

Australia Makes Asian Language Learning a Priority

Weedlekin Re:Indonesian, Korean and french (230 comments)

I fully endorse the above viewpoint, because as any loyal Daily Mail reader knows, Britain was an utter paradise on Earth before Johnny EU Foreigner turned it into a miserable dump out of sheer spite and jealousy. And to add insult to injury, Britain is the only country in the EU that actually implements all those EU rules properly: the rest of them just carry on as if political correctness legislation didn't exist, and health and safety laws only applied to places of work. They even sell curved bananas and apples that aren't all the same size, despite the rules clearly saying that they're not allowed to!

about a year ago

Narrowing Down When Humans Began Hurling Spears

Weedlekin Re:Basic rule for discussing the Stone Age (208 comments)

I'd say the use of fire was very obvious 125,000 years ago, because there's plenty of evidence to indicate that Homo Erectus was using it in a controlled way around 400,000 BCE, and and some evidence that they may have been using it even earlier (perhaps as early as 1.9 million BCE). We know Homo Erectus used fire both for cooking and firing clay pots, and they possibly had other uses for it that didn't survive the ravages of time (e.g. heat-treating wooden spear points to make them harder, etc).

It's actually quite hard to find anything that early Homo-Sapiens did (that we know of) that wasn't already being done by other variants of the same genus long before we appeared. And given the fact that Homo Erectus survived alongside Homo Sapiens for tens of thousands of years in Africa, we may well have learned to use fire and crafted stone tools (and perhaps other things) from them instead of coming up with such things independently for ourselves, because there doesn't seem to have been very much to differentiate Homo Sapiens from other genuses of Homo in the technological sense until between 30,000 and 40,000 BCE. That's when when we suddenly start to see things like cave art, and tools (both stone and bone) start to become more finely crafted and therefore distinctive from those of (for example) Homo Neandertalensis, whose tools had been pretty much the same as ours prior to this.

We have no idea why this big change took place when it did, but it's interesting to note that it happened in the same time frame as the decline, and then extinction of the other two surviving members of the genus Homo.

about a year ago


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