The discovery of intelligent alien life would be met predominantly with...
I can think of several ways we might go extinct. Of course there is unrestrained war with weapons so powerful that they make nuclear war look like a pillow fight. There's the Terminator kind of end. There's also the possibility that there's some extremely dangerous discovery we are near to making. What if some experiment at a particle accelerator creates a miniature black hole that doesn't rapidly decay, but instead lasts long enough to devour the Earth? But I wonder most about boredom. Ennui.
If we discover intelligent extraterrestrial life, it's highly likely to be far, far more technologically advanced than we are. It's been 65 million years since the dinosaurs were wiped out, and we've been civilized for a mere 0.01% of that time. If nearby intelligent aliens exist, it's likely they already know all about us, knew about Earth millions of years ago, and just don't care to communicate.
Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'
Let's hope that it stays safe to say things in support of due process, fairness, understanding, and moderation on such a charged subject, and that doing so is not willfully construed as favoring pedophilia. Freedom of speech, right? Some people seem awfully anxious to demonize pedophiles, to the point of mob hysteria. It looks like some of the tough talk on child molestation is out of fear, so that the mob doesn't turn on them. It's like that old SNL skit, the Church Lady, asking her guests if they hate Satan.
Pedophilia has a long history. The Roman Emperor Hadrian, one of their best, had a favorite greek boy. However, Roman Emperors were notorious for excess, and certainly don't make a good choice if one wants average people. There are still older customs. In early Iron Age battles, the winning commander might rape the losing one. Why? Maybe to demonstrate as graphically as possible that he was victorious and to humiliate the loser even more if that was possible, maybe as a severe punishment to further inspire other commanders to do all they could to win or die. The Bible is full of divine punishment for "deviant" sexual behavior, in particular the fates of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Could some instances of pedophilia be consequences of disease? For instance, there's Toxoplasma gondii. I find it amazing that a parasite can hack an animal's brain so subtly, removing the fear of cats and only cats, while largely leaving other brain functions intact. If that's possible, why not a disease that makes people have pedophilic urges?
I can't see anything wrong with using drawings of children, or blow up dolls, or whatever other harmless substitute may be available. Especially if that keeps a pedo from harming real children.
Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?
One thing about "begin" and "end" vs curly braces: lots of people do not understand English!
Brevity is also important. Otherwise, why stop at Pascal? Why not embrace Cobol?
Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes
It was private railroad limitations and greed that spurred the creation of the public highway system.
Now in the US, all that's left of passenger rail service is Amtrak, plus a small resurgence of local subway and light rail service in large cities. Amtrak is terrible. Very expensive, slow, late, and poor coverrage. To get from California to Texas by passenger rail, they are likely to try to route you the long way around, through Chicago.
Local Motors Looks To Disrupt the Auto Industry With 3D-Printed Car Bodies
I've looked into bringing a car from Mexico to the US. Latin America has lots of models that aren't available in the US, such as the Ford Ka. Unfortunately, US safety standards thoroughly "cock block" that idea. It can be done, but it's not worth doing. A car made to Mexican safety standards, such as they are, I think can be driven in the US by Mexican owners, but can't be simply bought and driven by US citizens. A US citizen can't pop down to Mexico, buy one of these cars and just drive it back to the US and get it all properly titled and licensed. No, it has to be brought up to US safety standards, which means thousands of dollars of work to strengthen the B pillars and other areas of the passenger compartment. Then the owner might want to think about hot rodding the car a bit to compensate for all the extra weight those safety modifications added.
The big exception to safety standards is the antique car. It can be heavily modified, but so long as the owner has a title to one of the real things, he can say it counts as whatever the original car was.. A US citizen can legally drive a "T-bucket" (a highly modified Model T). It's dangerous but legal. So what many automobile experimenters do is get the shell of an antique, and stick whatever power train they want in it.
The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees
You're looking at it wrong. Replace the corporations!
Set up solar and wind power with batteries, disconnect from the grid and fire your scumbag monopolistic electric company. Get an electric car, and destroy your Exxon Mobil credit card. Get a 3D printer and make your own household goods, including robot servants. Join with your neighbors to set up your own ISP as a public utility. Of course, freely download all your entertainment, and ram home the message to Hollywood that copyright is dead. Take a leaf from your great grandparents and have your robots grow your own vegetable garden so you can tell the grocery chain you won't need them any more either. Have the robots do "new homespun" too, and make your clothes for you, in exactly the right size and style and color you want. And put in a well and a septic system so you can tell the city to shove their endless rate hikes for sewage and water. Obtain a robot surgeon and an expert system diagnostician, and tell your doctors that their outrageous billing practices are history.
The disruption is going to be fun!
Exploring Some Lesser-Known Scripting Languages
using obscure syntax and constructs to save a couple of lines, sacrificing readability and maintainability.
But that's one of the paradoxes. Saving a couple of lines reduces eye clutter. What's obscure to you may be obvious to an expert in that language. Shorter is usually better.
What makes Perl difficult to read is the same thing that brought Perl to prominence, the regular expressions. People went nuts for regular expressions, and overused them. The Camel book warns readers about that. People are used to skimming through code quickly, because so much of it really is boilerplate. But you can't quickly skim regular expressions except the trivial ones. You have to study each symbol. Miss one backslash, and the entire meaning changes. I think the other big complaint about Perl is that the language overuses sigils. Having a $ in front of every scalar variable name is tiresome for both coder and maintainer. Adds visual clutter. Smacks very much of putting the compiler writer's convenience ahead of the application programmer, a sin committed in many languages. Why couldn't they use plain names? C did that, it's not hard, just need to reserve a few words, for example, don't allow a variable to be named "if".
The Importance of Deleting Old Stuff
What's that saying that's used to justify spying on everyone? "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear".
You can't divorce security from ethics, because so much of security does not make everyone safer, it often makes a small group safer from the public, and that may not be in the public interest. Security against viruses is good for everyone but the few who want to use viruses to the detriment of the infected. Security against "pirates" is much more controversial, as "pirates" too often means everyone else. MS tried propaganda and strong arm tactics to pass off Windows Genuine Advantage as security for users. That was an insult to our intelligence, and a lie. Worse were Sony's music CDs with the root kit. I wonder if any of the leaked info has details about that, perhaps puts names to the people who decided make Sony's own CDs help spread viruses, including their own? With tax season around the corner, and Turbo Tax in the news again for anti-social behavior, the stunt they pulled a decade ago is worth mentioning again. Their "security" measures in their software screwed with the boot sector of their users' hard drives, risking the loss of all their users' data, in order to "protect" their software from piracy with, once again, DRM that does not work.
If you're a security expert, what do you do when you're asked to help cover something up, something that may be criminal and/or dangerous? Or, you're asked to use your knowledge to help make everyone less secure, by, for example, designing a root kit for music CDs? Blow the whistle, or follow orders? Whichever way you go could be trouble. Lose your career because no one wants to hire a whistleblower, and the government does a bad job of protecting whistleblowers, or lose your freedom when you are implicated in the cover up and sent to prison for it? Maybe you can blow the whistle without blowing your cover. No one was sure who Deep Throat was until long after Watergate. For the example of the root kit on the music CDs, you might make a judgment call. You would understand that this is a variation of DRM that will still be ineffective, the root kit is a clumsy idea, and therefore is unlikely to do much damage to the public. The outcome can only be what actually did happen, which is that the root kit was soon noticed and the only harm of significance was self inflicted harm when Sony lost much trust and was forced to recall all the infected CDs. So, your best course of action was likely some form of CYA, documents that you warned management that the root kit was a very bad idea, and that you were going ahead with it only under protest. You could still be blamed and fired of course. Maybe management will believe the root kit would have worked if not for your "treachery" in deliberately doing an incompetent job, despite any words anyone else tells them to the contrary.
Canada's Copyright Notice Fiasco: Why the Government Bears Responsibility
Not necessarily. There's cheating to factor in. The people may have actually voted otherwise, but some incumbents abuse their power to rig the election. That's what's going on in the US. Bush should never have won the presidency. Currently, the majority of North Carolina's representatives should be Democratics, instead, most are Republicans. Republicans have been engaging in a number of tactics to tilt the vote their way. Gerrymandering is something both sides have done for decades, but in recent years the Republicans have pushed their cheats more. They make sure there aren't enough voting machines in districts that lean democratic, and they manufacture a problem with voter fraud and use that as the excuse to kick people off voter registration lists and pass these photo ID laws. They even try to intimidate voters in democratic districts with big scary warnings that cheating at the polls is a felony for which you could spend 10 years in jail. Anyone who believes that threat is not going to take a chance like that, better not to vote at all. The courts struck that one down, but there are many other tactics. Crosscheck is a big one. Voters have to jump through a bunch of hoops to be allowed to vote. Recently in Texas, a 4th choice was added for voters who want to vote straight party ticket. Used to be R, D, and Libertarian. Now there is ... Green! How did the Green party gain enough strength to do that? Perot's Reform party is not on the ballot, and he's from Texas. Answer: the Greens aren't strong enough, the Republicans put them on the ballot, figuring that would split the Democratic vote.
The worst part is that the Republicans who do this crap have very limited understanding and not much intelligence. They really seem to think it's okay for them to cheat. The end justifies the means, you know. But no one else better cheat, no sir! If they were smarter, they would understand that cheating is destructive. Instead, they behave as if "might is right" and that winning any way you can, even by cheating, is acceptable, and indeed a show of strength. The other guys were too "wimpy" to use the same "aggressive" tactics, so they deserved to lose! They've even convinced themselves that they aren't really cheating. It's how they can sound like such straight shooters even while their pants are on fire. That last is all part of their overall campaign against reality, science, and reason. For me, one of the most telling moments was the night of the 2012 election, when Romney's gang chose to believe slanted polls and propaganda that showed he was going to win, rather than the best, most unbiased polls which showed that he was losing, and then the actual results, in which he lost.
What are you most interested in seeing out of CES?
And yet, many of those people who ditched college to make money, even if they succeed at that, are jealous of people who earned degrees, especially if the degree is a PhD. They feel they too are smart and talented enough to earn a PhD. After all, they earned huge piles of money. But they seem to prefer to stay bitter and jealous about it rather than take the time to put their notion to the test and try to get an advanced degree themselves. They rationalize that it's all "academic" and a waste of time anyway. And they all have stories of the "dumbass" PhD, that often turns out to be unfair. Like, maybe that this guy with a PhD couldn't find his car keys one time, and he was holding them in his hand the whole time. One little mistake like that is good enough for them to crap all over everything he's ever done, his alma mater, and the entire college education system.
The anti-education folks latch on to this. That's the raw meat they crave. Mr. Jealous Millionaire didn't think of that, but, if he even cares, he discovers it's very hard to undo the damage. That's the same sort of uncomfortable position Henry Ford was in when Hitler sent him a medal for all the Jew bashing he did.
Should We Be Content With Our Paltry Space Program?
If China were to put a man on the moon, that might be enough. If they also announce that was only the first step to eventually colonizing Mars, for themselves, the rubes would suddenly demand we get there first.
2014: Hottest Year On Record
Are you seriously equating predictions of Climate Change and the problems it will cause, with the likes of the 2012 phenomenon crowd (Mayan calendar stuff), Jupiter Effect believers, and other disaster and "end times" false prophets and nuts? The one is backed by solid science, the others are pseudoscience. If you can't be bothered to appreciate this distinction, then you won't have any idea which warnings to ignore and which to heed. Ignore them all at your peril.
Global Warming has been happening for years, perhaps centuries. Originally, it was thought that Global Warming didn't really start until about 1800, with the Industrial Revolution, and about 1750 could be used as a baseline. Newer research suggests that even in 1750 there was enough human activity to throw things off. It's only relatively recently that the effects are becoming easily visible, and you can see this yourself if only you will look. Sea level has already crept up a few cm. The ice cap at the north pole is smaller than ever. Glaciers all around the world are shrinking. Atmospheric CO2 has passed 400 ppm, after fluctuating between 180 and 300 ppm for millions of years. Noe of this is as yet a bad problem, and some of it is even good, but if it continues the problems will get much worse.
2014: Hottest Year On Record
Aluminum already is smelted with hydro. Has been for years. The Nechako Reservoir in British Coilumbia was created to power aluminum smelting. The most recent massive aluminum smelting project may be Fjardaal in Iceland, powered by hydro which was created for the Al smelting.
2014: Hottest Year On Record
For some places, Climate Change will be a positive. But the net is hugely negative. 1/3 of the world's people are close enough to a coast that they will have to do something when sea levels rise.
Climate Change is happening too fast for much life to cope. The speed of the change is all negative.
The driver of Climate Change is Atmospheric Change. Everyone talks about warming, but all this CO2 has a lot of other effects. The other big effect is Ocean Acidification. This is deadly for shells and corals. The whole oceanic food chain is being strained to the limit from this, and from overfishing.
Hunting For a Tech Job In 2015
When job hunts for you, then economy doing well!
Would Twitter Make President Obama 'Follow' the Tea Party If the Price Is Right?
Just stop using them, huh? Sure, as soon as I learn of some alternatives. I mean, to replace Google for searching, there's DuckDuckGo, though they aren't quite all I could desire in a search engine either. Could replace Slashdot with SoylentNews or maybe reddit. I'm okay with Wikipedia and relatives, don't feel they need replacing. But what is there to replace Facebook? Twitter? Skype? Ebay? Amazon? NewEgg may be making a bid to compete with Amazon. As for Ebay, there's what, Craigslist? I looked into this Ebid site, but there was one big thing I didn't like in their terms, which is that they can cancel your lifetime membership if you're accused of anything. One false accusation, and you're done. Ouch.
Would Twitter Make President Obama 'Follow' the Tea Party If the Price Is Right?
I don't know, but I'll take a guess.
- 1. Every party except Republicans
- 2. Pirate Party
- 3. Every party except Republicans and Democrats
- 4. Another punishment question? Dude, expand #3 to include more than banksters, and this is unnecessary.
- 5. None, we're on our own for that. See #6.
- 6. The party of Wikileaks and Snowden.
- 7. Neither Republican nor Democrat, though the Republicans like to throw raw meat to the people who want a big wall and massive army of border guards to patrol it, as if that would solve anything. Probably only 1 or 2 small parties. It's not a big issue. And what about reform of immigration laws, why only ask about enforcement?
- 8. Most 3rd parties.
- 9. Why do you need a political party for that? The govenrment can't control your personal life, unless you let them. As for "when working", well, that's not personal any more is it?
- 10. Red tape to suppress competition is only one of the many corruptions the powerful perpetrate. Is any party notably less corrupt?
- 11. Government bashing, again? It's not the government that's the problem, it's the powerful. The government is only a problem if it's too easy for the powerful to corrupt and control it, and it is no longer answerable to the people. You really prefer living in an anarchy? Then move to Somalia.
Ask Slashdot: Best Options For a Standalone Offline Printing Station?
My dad also likes having a printer. I don't. They're high maintenance, and if that isn't bad enough, we all know the crap that ink jet manufacturers pull to drive our costs up even more.
I tried to persuade him that he didn't need a printer, but got nowhere. He still writes checks and orders more checkbooks when he runs low, sometimes prints out emails, and other absurdities from not connecting with what technology can do. He keeps his contact list on a handwritten sheet of paper beside the monitor, rather than using some program to manage that info. It's one of the cases where he didn't even use the printer, he wrote that all down himself, with pen and pencil. I've tried to get him to use a spreadsheet or at least a text editor for that, but he's just more comfortable with pen and paper.
Pope Francis To Issue Encyclical On Global Warming
it seems the only cure offered is to either severely restrict our lifestyles or increase the costs of everything so that it has that same effect
That is standard denialist fearmongering and propaganda, this thinking that the only cure is lots of sacrifice. It's not true. It's the opposite. It will employ an awful lot of people to do much of the work we can do to address Climate Change. That's a lot of jobs.
Lots of those things will also make our personal lives better. In general, it's called efficiency. Now flat screens are in nearly every way better than CRTs. Refrigerators became much more efficient in 1996.
People should get over their predujices about what makes cars pretty, and embrace better aerodynamics. One example is the Aerocivic. As noted on that site, there were bonuses with the improved aerodynamics: the car is quieter, stays cleaner, and is steadier, which makes it safer. Trucks can use vortex generators. One guy I know objected to vortex generators on the grounds that they were ugly. I asked him why was it important whether an already butt ugly truck trailer not have these? Surely not for the sake of beauty?
Then there are roads. Who could possibly object to smarter traffic lights? Everyone who has ever driven much has had the experience of being stuck at a red light for nothing, because currently the devices are not capable of sensing traffic soon enough to be proactive. They are essentially mindless with no ability to learn traffic patterns and adjust their timing.
Out With the Red-Light Cameras, In With the Speeding Cameras
The law is neither perfect nor pure. Otherwise, why not have the penalty for a violation be death? But we recognize that some illegal acts are not serious problems, may be wrongly blamed on an innocent, or recognized as not criminal at some later date, and that where there are these doubts it is wise to have relatively light penalties.
Corruption is a big problem-- it's just too easy for a powerful business interest to bribe politicians to enact favorable legislation that is against the public interest and serves only to enable someone to line their pockets at the expense of the public. That's why we have such ridiculously long copyright terms.
Even when corruption is absent, the law can be too simplistic or wrongheaded. The goal is traffic safety. Speed limits are a simplistic and crude but reasonably effective means of making driving safer. However, there are times when it is acceptable to speed. For instance, if taking a seriously injured person to an emergency room. A friend of mine who works for the emergency department was once called and told to get to the hospital right away as they needed him urgently. He sped and blew through a few red lights, and a cop saw this and pulled up beside him, but he held up his medical badge and the cop decided not to bother him.
Public digital libraries and the law
The advantages of a digital library over a traditional book repository are tremendous. No more need for multiple copies of popular books, no reason to have late fees, due dates, charges for lost or damaged books, or indeed the entire system built around library cards and records for tracking who has which books and when they are due. Anyone could download a copy of anything, anytime, and do so without interfering with anyone else's access. Stacks and shelves filled with tons of paper books would all be replaced with computers. This would take less space, and perhaps less maintenance. And it would allow all sorts of extra functionality, such as the ability to search, and have hyperlinks to related works. Card catalogs and cumbersome indexes of magazine and journal articles would not be needed. Also, can handle different sorts of data, such as books and movies, with the same system. Cities could save a bundle.
Currently, though technically doable, this magnificent vision is politically impossible. Copyright law stands squarely in the way. I cannot see any way to have a digital library that is freely accessible, and copyright law. It is the ability to copy any info quickly that makes a digital library so much more powerful, useful, and cheaper than a print library. We should abandon copyright law, and compensate and encourage artists with other means. The benefits of public digital libraries, and of the free exchange of ideas they could promote, are worth much more than copyright law. But because we do have this antiquated legal regime, the few digital libraries that exist are mostly behind paywalls or are private, and contain very small, highly specific collections, and we cannot see the full benefits. Copyright law must be retired.
Some people instead advocate reforms such as limiting the length of these monopolies (to something like 5 years), not granting so many frivolous patents, not allowing the patenting of software, and reducing the penalties for violations. All those are good reforms to Intellectual Property (IP) law. But I think they don't go far enough, and the root of the problem can be summed up with one word: monopoly. Anti-trust efforts aim to eliminate monopolies, not mitigate them.
Even very short duration monopolies are enough to retard progress. That still provides grounds for expensive lawsuits and threats over alleged violations. By removing patents and copyrights altogether, we remove all basis for these complaints, and save us all a lot of legal expenses. We also save hugely on enforcement and the costs of a larger justice system. If anything should anger us, it is the misuse of our own police forces, paid for by us, in support of these businesses highly dubious ends. And most of all, we stop what has become the primary uses of IP, the blocking of competition and the robbery and extortion of the disadvantaged. People who want less government should support the abolishment of current IP law. As matters stand, many businesses have realized that building a portfolio of patents for defensive purposes is less costly than having an "IP gap". The quality of the patents does not matter, all that matters is that they have some of this peculiar form of currency, and so the quality has lately been poor. The least costly route is total disarmament, where no one need budget for patent portfolios.
Supporters of IP display a blind religious fervor that these laws are a net benefit, that they achieve the intent of advancing science and promoting art enough to justify the costs of these monopolies. I have never seen a reasoned argument, with honest statistics, in support of this position. Of the rational studies I have seen, most focus on one aspect, and conclude that the status quo is indeed bad. We need a study of the real costs and benefits of the current system, versus some alternatives.
What replacements do I propose? Nothing, or patronage. Nothing is of course the easiest, but the intent of the patent system was to buy off inventors-- give them something in exchange for revealing their secrets, and if there is no incentive of any sort for that, many will keep as many secrets as possible. A worse outcome is that people won't bother inventing or creating art. This fear is perhaps overblown. Nevertheless, we can strike a balance to encourage the creating of as much art as we can stomach. A patronage system can provide the incentive. A payment is a far less damaging thing to give inventors and artists than a monopoly. The next problems are valuation and collection. We can surely work out ways of figuring compensation amounts that are as fair as possible, given the huge difficulties in guessing how valuable an idea will turn out to be. Collection is the other big problem, with the first notion being a tax. But there are other ways. A levy can be agreed upon. And it need not be government that does the collecting, valuation, or disbursement, nor the people who pay directly, it could be quasi-governmental private entities managing the system. And paying into it would be advertisers and manufacturers of equipment that benefited from the knowledge, and charities.
first post! :p