flaming error writes "Could software engineers fix America's federal government?
Software engineers are strong in skills that others may lack. They know, for example, that design choices are imperfect trade-offs, that a cost/benefit analysis must analyze both the costs *and* the benefits. They know that the best design is generally the simplest design that meets the requirements, that lines of code *deleted* are more helpful than lines of code added.
What if legislators were all software engineers? I would like to think they would go back to the original spec, the Preamble, and the original design, the Constitution — and delete nearly everything since. Every legislative bill ever written that strayed from the legislature's enumerated powers would be deleted, every extra-constitutional federal bureaucracy shuttered.
The federal government would no longer be an ATM machine. Programs we loathe would be scrapped, programs we love would be scrapped, programs we've invested in or have come to depend on would all be scrapped, if they are outside the scope of the core design (which can evolve, but only under properly approved Engineering Change Orders).
America would no longer police the world. We would sustain no military presence within other countries' borders. Any war would require causus belli and be initiated and terminated by Congress, not by the military or its commander-in-chief.
The federal government would no longer regulate the citizens, nor track them, nor even necessarily know who they are. Births, deaths, marriages, crime, and taxes would be managed by the several states, who would each be obliged to respect the decisions of the others. Federal taxes would be paid exclusively by the states, and assessed proportional to their representation in Congress.
It would hurt us all. But it could result in a coherent product that really works.
flaming error writes "The Orwell Prize organization will, every day, starting tomorrow, post the entry George Orwell made in his personal Diary for the same day 70 years prior.
'When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page', wrote George Orwell, in his 1939 essay on Charles Dickens.
From 9th August 2008, you will be able to gather your own impression of Orwell's face from reading his most strongly individual piece of writing: his diaries. The Orwell Prize is delighted to announce that, to mark the 70th anniversary of the diaries, each diary entry will be published on this blog exactly seventy years after it was written, allowing you to follow Orwell's recuperation in Morocco, his return to the UK, and his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict.
I'm not sure what "real time" means here, but it looks to be a wonderful way to revisit some interesting times."
flaming error writes " According to the AP, a substitute teacher with apparently little knowledge of computers claims she used a classroom PC to send an email to her husband, went to the restroom, and returned to find a couple girls browsing a hairstyle site on the web. She sent them away, and later, during class, pornographic images started popping up on the PC. The school administration admits the PC was completely open, unpatched, and unprotected. But the prosecution didn't buy the idea of porn popping up all by itself, nor apparently, did the jury. She is now a convict, and facing jail time." top
Aquaduct Mobile Filtration Vehicle wins Innovate or Die
flaming error writes | more than 6 years ago
Ideo, the originator of the mouse pointing device, has developed a pedal-powered trike to simultaneously transport and filter water. News article here.
This idea could potentially benefit third-world areas with unclean water supplies (and bike paths to the river).
BOSTON (Reuters) - A Christian biologist is suing the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, claiming he was fired for refusing to accept evolution, lawyers involved in the case said on Friday.
Nathaniel Abraham, an Indian national who describes himself as a "Bible-believing Christian," said in the suit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston that he was fired in 2004 because he would not accept evolution as scientific fact.
I know how this guy feels. I belong to the Church of Divine Tech, which believes that software is really just ones and zeros that the Great Compiler in the Sky decrees. I want to submit all my software in machine code, which will be dictated to me by my Holy Coin of Flipping. But nobody hires me.
When it was created by the magazine's staff in 1947, it was initially set at seven minutes to midnight and has moved 17 times since then.
It was as close as two minutes to midnight in 1953 following U.S. and Soviet hydrogen bomb tests, and as far away as 17 minutes to midnight in 1991 after the superpowers reached agreement on a nuclear arms reductions.
Since this back-and-forth indicator doesn't seem to behave much like a clock, I'm not sure these guys are using the right model. I think I'd have chosen a thermometer.
Or maybe a 5 level color-coded indicator that's always yellow unless we're in a nuclear war.