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German Intelligence Spying On Allies, Recorded Kerry, Clinton, and Kofi Annan

bhiestand Re:Bottom line... (170 comments)

You are the one making an elementary mistake, I am afraid. Your conclusion does not follow, even if we accept your entire argument.

You have heard the phrase "trust, but verify". It is far too easy to fake transparency and mislead other states. Every state throughout history has done this. At the very least, you need good intelligence sources to verify a state's public pronouncements regarding intentions are sincere. Even if they are sincere, you need to know the intentions/plans/abilities of internal players who may be in opposition.

Although I guess we could just take Putin at his word that he is just conducting military exercises and has no intentions towards Crimea? I'm sure he'll be giving Crimea back to Ukraine any day now.

Advocating covert verification of states' intentions and abilities has nothing to do with government accountability. That is an extreme oversimplification and false dichotomy.

about two weeks ago
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Solid State Drives Break the 50 Cents Per GiB Barrier, OCZ ARC 100 Launched

bhiestand Re:Cheaper drives (183 comments)

No, any enterprise that cares about its data or uptime will use "enterprise" SSDs*. All** the big storage players have been using enterprise rated/labeled SSDs, and many of them use "enterprise" HDDs as well. So that's a pretty big chunk of the storage market. I'm not saying EMC doesn't have a high markup, but if you're using EMC storage with SSDs, you're using enterprise SSDs.

There are a bunch of reasons to use enterprise stuff in other situations as well, but I'm not going to try to debate the technicals right now.

As a side note, it sounds like your company is having pretty serious issues with storage and backup. What are they going to do when data grows a bit and daily backups start taking 25 hours?

*Or have a completely different architecture to sidestep the problem. It's harder than it sounds.
**There may be exceptions?

about two weeks ago
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Brookings Study Calls Solar, Wind Power the Most Expensive Fossil Alternatives

bhiestand Re:The Brookings Institution? (409 comments)

That is true of a lot of newer think tanks. You can generally judge a think tank by its ratio of PhDs to staff.

Brookings is part of the old guard. They employ a lot of serious researchers and generally strive towards objectivity. Nothing's 100%, but I'd say they're comparable to a good university.

about three weeks ago
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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

bhiestand Re:Comprehension fail. Green: Give Wheeler more po (200 comments)

Fair enough. I appreciate your honest reply.

W was a unique president. Off the top of my head, he's the only recent president who seems to have actually done everything wrong. Obama has done some good... but since everything he does is controversial and subject to the harshest rhetoric I've seen in the US, I decided to leave him out of this.

about three weeks ago
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Comparison: Linux Text Editors

bhiestand Re:Have you seen Gedit lately? (402 comments)

While that is correct, you are assuming vi has a steep upward slope. That was not the case for me.

1 minute in: "Oh crap... how I do I type? How do I EXIT?"
15 minutes in: "whew, helpful man page and articles." "cfg edited and saved. Go me!"
1 day later: "I just deleted two lines! Crap! How do I exit without saving? Ugh... what'd that man say again?"

A quick initial climb, a steep drop into a lake filled with tears, and then a gradual slope.

about a month ago
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Countries Don't Own Their Internet Domains, ICANN Says

bhiestand Re:Whew. FFS... (113 comments)

Let me guess where you're from.

A place where imagination is non-existent.

The problem is that in this statement:

Now imagine you're neither country. Dependent on a bully country and some other random country for your internet control. Which would you take? Or the UN?

you are imaging that the US is the "bully country", and failing to imagine what most other countries would do with control over the internet. And actively ignoring what many other countries do with control over their piece of the internet.

The US bullies on plenty of issues. Control over the internet really isn't one of them.

about a month ago
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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

bhiestand Re:Comprehension fail. Green: Give Wheeler more po (200 comments)

It's government that enforces the cable monopolies. They are called franchises, and it's the government saying only one company can run service to a given neighborhood. An EXCELLENT example of government doing harm.

I got the impression you were making the argument about the federal government specifically. Sometimes the federal/state government increases liberty by getting rid of a federal/state regulation. Sometimes abolishing a regulation leads to less liberty.

Neither I nor the Green Party believes government never does harm. I am certainly not claiming that federal, state, or local governments are free of corruption.

The core of the argument is that 1) government is not inherently bad and 2) we can substantially improve the quality of our government through 3) changes in electoral rules, campaign financing, and the revolving door. When a large voting bloc stops believing 1 and 2, we're basically doomed. I'd much rather argue over the best #3 and how to get them implemented.

about a month ago
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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

bhiestand Re:Bullshit (200 comments)

Key part of your quote:

The quality of drinking water in the United States remains universally high, however. Even though pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and in need of replacement, outbreaks of disease attributable to drinking water are rare.

Universally high quality drinking water? That's "remarkably well". Yes, infrastructure needs work because nobody is willing to spend the money to do it. But, as of today, nearly everyone has potable water.

about a month ago
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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

bhiestand Re:Comprehension fail. Green: Give Wheeler more po (200 comments)

I'm sorry, but you are misinterpreting or misrepresenting Greens, at least in this paragraph:

It's pretty clear, isn't it, that they are for more government - WAY more government. In fact, the preamble of their platform says they seek to refute the idea "that government is intrinsically undesirable and destructive of liberty". They think more federal government leads to more liberty. How cute.

The entire point of that line is that governments are not always bad, and they can lead to liberty. The rest of the platform is basically saying "we need all of these things to have a good government again".

I'd call the notion that government never leads to more liberty "cute", but it's ugly and overly cynical. Let me give you a few examples of the federal government creating more liberty:
* abolishment of slavery (Civil War will give you a lot of fun arguing points, I'm sure, but still true)
* abolishment of Jim Crow laws
* child labor laws
* Roe v Wade (trollbait, but millions of Americans have been grateful for this liberty)
* hopefully someday, breaking cable's blockade of good internet (I don't have the liberty to have fiber because a municipal official made a deal with a donor?)

I'm not a Green, but I'm with them on this. And I think any sane person should be. Government is not always bad.

about a month ago
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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

bhiestand Re:Cry Me A River (608 comments)

Hell, take things "programmed" in Excel for that matter. I've seen people use 3 columns to do things which could've been written in 1 operation especially when it comes to adding percentages to a value (they'll calculate 4%, then add it's outcome to the source value to get a +4% and then hide the other 2 columns instead of just doing 104%). That will take them 2 hours to complete.

I agree with your point. But to be fair, I have seen 'geniuses' use one formula to do things which could have been written in 50 columns. There are advantages to breaking up the formula and "showing your work" in hidden columns. I hate trying to debug or change formulas with a thousand parentheses. Now if we can only get people to make their excel formulas readable and then start documenting...

about a month and a half ago
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Police Using Dogs To Sniff Out Computer Memory

bhiestand Re:Any Memory?? what judge will go on just that? (415 comments)

Yeah, it's kind of sad how very few places will tolerate anyone who truly cares (rather than pretends to care while supporting policies infringe upon free speech rights) about free speech.

Freedom? You want the "free speech right" of a rapist to trump a rape victim's freedom to decide whether or not to be be in an adult video.

It's possible you're not trolling, but it's absolutely ridiculous that anyone would mod you up. So much for #NotAllMen and all those "slashdot isn't misogynist!" comments...

about 2 months ago
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Police Using Dogs To Sniff Out Computer Memory

bhiestand Re:Any Memory?? what judge will go on just that? (415 comments)

Imagine if you were kidnapped, raped, while being videotaped. Should said video be allowed to circulate all in the name of anti-censorship?

Absolutely.

Insightful? Only on Slashdot.

about 2 months ago
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Study: Global Warming Solvable If Fossil Fuel Subsidies Given To Clean Energy

bhiestand Re:You think? (385 comments)

No, that would be a subsidy, if it wasn't applied to all businesses equally. My point was that some people claim a tax cut, usually in the form of a rate cut, is "the same thing as spending." E.g., if a tax cut is expected to reduce revenues by $100 million, they will say it's the same as the government spending $100 million. It's not, for various reasons too off-topic to go into.

I am glad we agree on the first point. I may have missed some of the context of your post, and I often get the impression that some on slashdot would not agree that targeted rate cuts are a subsidy.

On the latter, I suspect we disagree somewhat. But we don't have to argue that point. Over the last 14 years, I have seen an ugly cycle of: 1) cut taxes disproportionately for the wealthy and corporations; 2) increase defense spending; 3) cite new deficits as justification for cutting entitlements by an amount dwarfed by 1 and 2; 4) propose new tax cuts. The claim that "tax cuts [always] pay for themselves" concerns me greatly.

about 2 months ago
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Study: Global Warming Solvable If Fossil Fuel Subsidies Given To Clean Energy

bhiestand Re:You think? (385 comments)

Today on /. we find out who doesn't know the difference between subsidies, tax deductions, tax breaks, and taxes.

You'd have a mod point if I had one right now. You could have added "spending," because I've seen people argue that tax cuts (i.e. taking less of someone's money) is the same thing as more government spending.

So, to be clear, if Obama got on TV and announced that no taxes would need to be paid on corporate or personal income from renewable energy sales, you would NOT consider that a form of subsidy? And he would get no resistance from the right, because it would just be "taking less of someone's money"?

about 2 months ago
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An Army Medal For Coding In Perl

bhiestand Re:This is dumb (192 comments)

I know it's broad, as are the definitions of combat zones. However, I think that's more reflective of America's extreme involvement across the globe, and doesn't necessarily diminish the value of a legitimate medal.

Now, the paperpushers who get bronze stars for their heroic hiring of contractors and writing of contracts...

about 2 months ago
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An Army Medal For Coding In Perl

bhiestand Re:This is dumb (192 comments)

The National Defense Service Medal [wikipedia.org] is automatically handed out to everyone that enlists.

I'd expect you to at least know the meaning of the first medal you got. Everyone currently in the military has it, yes, but that's not automatic or even upon enlisting. It's only during a time of war. I think that should be recognized.

about 2 months ago
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Google: Indie Musicians Must Join Streaming Service Or Be Removed

bhiestand Re:People pay for music? (364 comments)

We don't know how many times the driver in the cars have had to intervene to prevent an accident, do we?

No, but do you know how many (minor, major, and fatal) collisions there are per mile driven?

I know there are around 2 fatalities per 100m miles driven, but I can't find rates for minor and major accidents. I suspect the vast majority of collisions are non-fatal, so a human driver probably has good odds of being in a collision by 700k.

Do you have any evidence that self-driving cars are unsafe, or that human intervention has been necessary?

about 2 months ago
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Google: Indie Musicians Must Join Streaming Service Or Be Removed

bhiestand Re:People pay for music? (364 comments)

And... so? None of this will happen until self-driving cars are in fact the safer alternative. At which point, great. Since when do you get to endanger others because you think it's fun?

Afraid I'll get a woosh for this, but I'll respond...

As I understand it, they already are safer. Thus far, no moving violations and no accidents (to my knowledge). Google's car was in an accident while it was being manually driven. Google is touting 700,000+ accident-free miles now.

about 2 months ago
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California Regulators Tell Ride-Shares No Airport Runs

bhiestand Re:"Safety Requirements"? (314 comments)

I'm sure they do, but seriously... fuck the cabbies. Their lobbying is the reason most Californians can't take the train all the way to the airport. Stops just far enough way that you have to call a taxi.

It would be great to see somebody take that from them.

about 2 months ago
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Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

bhiestand Re:Because... (325 comments)

That may be true for philosophy and ethics, but not as much for political science. There's a decent-sized job market in campaign work, government (esp. urban planning), and security. Security isn't academia per se, but it is borderline since a lot of the work is at think tanks and similar institutions. I'd also argue it's a useful background for business, and multinationals seem to recognize that value.

I believe these are the main reasons Political Science tends to be at the top of the salary rankings for social sciences, along with Urban Planning and International Relations, which often fall under the P.S. department or major.

about 3 months ago

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Journals

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The Iraq Death Toll is not a good benchmark

bhiestand bhiestand writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Disclaimer: I am not advocating a political pro- or anti-war position. This entry is purely about the use of the daily Death Toll by politicians and the media.

Every time I watch television or read a news story about the war in Iraq I am given an update on the current death toll. This shocks me, but not because of the number of people who have died. It shocks me because the death toll is not a good objective indicator of the effectiveness of strategy, the justness of the war in Iraq, or any reasonable cost/benefit analysis of the war.

Fact: The war is either just or unjust.
Fact: The war is either in the interests of the American public or against.

Those are both issues that should be openly debated by the public. Those should be the only two issues that really matter to politicians. The death toll, in this context, does not affect either issue.

If the war is just, the death toll could reach 1,000,000 and still be worth it. Certainly WWII and similar wars were, from our perspective, right, regardless of the death toll, because there are certain things which, for the sake of humankind, can not be allowed to happen.

If the war is in the best interests of the American public, it can be calculated as such. For any method of determining the value of a war, a number of casualties or deaths would have to be determined to be at a level that outweighs the benefits of the war. I'll discuss this later, but an incremental daily death toll clearly has no bearing on this. A simple "We have reached the magical number of casualties which outweigh the benefits of this war" would suffice.

If the war is unjust OR against our best interests, the death toll doesn't matter at all. Even if no American were to die, it'd be wrong to fight an unjust war, or to fight a war against our own best interests.

Logically, then, the death toll DOES NOT MATTER. It is an appeal to emotion, not a logical argument. A logical argument might be made based on the reduced GDP associated with the deaths of a certain number of soldiers compared to the value gained of a certain number of barrels per oil produced per year, or any of thousands of other calculations. Although this does include the number of deaths in its calculations, it doesn't require a daily, incremental update. There would simply be a calculated point of, say, 128,952 casualties, at which the war would be counterproductive. As previously stated, the war doesn't become just or unjust at a certain number of deaths, and there is no need to argue beyond proving "this war is unjust" or "this war is against our own interests".

If the motivation to constantly bring up the death toll was due to sympathy for the soldiers rather than political gain and maneuvering, the logical topic to discuss next would be methods of reducing the death toll (better body armor, medical research) or ways to alleviate the suffering of the families (improved VA benefits for their survivors and better medical/social/economic treatment for wounded soldiers). This is not the case in current political discussions or debates. This is not the case in current news broadcasts. Leftists/Liberals/Anti-War proponents immediately follow with another appeal to emotion such as "Bush Sucks!" or a proposal that we either: A) Bring our troops home, B) Increase the number of troops in Iraq, or C) Stay the course. These can be emotionally reworded as either A) Vote Democrat in 2008, B) Kill More Troops, C) Keep Killing the Same Number of Troops. Essentially, it is nothing more than an attempt to sidestep the actual issues and encourage people to act and make decisions based on their emotions.

So please, everybody, stop getting yourselves worked into an orgiastic fervor every time the new "Death Toll" is announced. The death toll from this war (on the American side) may be eligible for long-term military study across the world because it is so incredibly low, but that does not affect the the morality of the war, which should be the real issue. If it affects military strategy, such strategy changes will be made within the military, and are best left not decided by politicians or the general public to begin with. I don't remember there being a public debate about whether to invade at Normandy or Pas de Calais.

If you are genuinely concerned for the welfare of soldiers, do what you can to help them. There are hundreds of reputable organizations which provide care packages, additional military equipment that is not regularly issued, assistance for wounded troops, scholarships for the children of fallen soldiers, and even some very powerful lobbying activity on behalf of soldiers within Washington D.C. But please, for the good of all, do not use the death toll as a political lever which appeals to emotion and is only designed to benefit from an increasing number of soldiers.

I know this is slashdot, and it's unlikely anyone has read through my rant, but any comments or logical arguments showing why I'm wrong would be appreciated.

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