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# Slashdot: News for Nerds

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### Apple Refuses To Unlock Bequeathed iPad

Court Fees... Personal Representative Fees... Attorney's Fees... Accounting Fees... Appraisal and Business Valuation Fees... Bond Fees... Miscellaneous Fees... After adding up all of these fees and costs, you can count on probate taking anywhere from 3%-8% of your assets away from your beneficiaries... [quoting from about.com]

Vultures, the lot of them.

Everyone pays taxes, and everyone dies. There ought to be no court fees. (There are now places where you need to pay the fire department if they every come to your property, despite paying taxes. Same thing.) Probate should not be an especially difficult process, nor should it involve fees or necessitate lawyers. Those should be for unusual circumstances.

The government exists to serve the governed, not the other way around. We have forgotten that and let bureaucrats and politicians "restructure" our society to please their own egos and line their pockets.

yesterday
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### Apple Refuses To Unlock Bequeathed iPad

This is definitely part of the problem, but I think it runs deeper. There seems to be a philosophy that law should govern everything. And because only lawyers understand the law, they should be involved in every facet of life. It's sickening.

Throughout most of civilization, the average person couldn't afford a lawyer, and we managed inter-personal relationships just fine. Now, we can occasionally afford lawyers, but we can't sneeze without one?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...

Sound familiar?

yesterday
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### Apple Refuses To Unlock Bequeathed iPad

I didn't, actually. But not everything in real life is like a TV show. There are still plenty of families that manage to make it through the death of a loved one without tearing the family apart.

People who think that Lawyers need to be involved for each and every death must either have terrible family lives, or have friends and neighbors who do. (Or put too much stock into television episodes)

yesterday
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### Apple Refuses To Unlock Bequeathed iPad

The children either want to avoid full probate because of the expense or need to get a new attorney familiar with whatever the affidavit of small estate alternative process is for their jurisdiction.

Sometimes, I just don't understand the Lawyer outlook of the world. If everything is working smoothly between family members, there ought to be no reason whatsoever to involve lawyers, courts, and extra expenses. Yes, there will always be some people who need a legal mediator... but there will always be people who don't need the extra expense and headache.

The idea that the world runs because lawyers exist, and that we must therefore thank them for making life difficult, is perverse and detrimental to society. Sometimes, in order to be helpful, the profession just needs to get out of the way.

yesterday
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### Japanese Firm Proposes Microwave-Linked Solar Plant On the Moon

Yes, but it's not always the same half. :-P

The moon is tide-locked to the Earth, not to the sun. The so-called "dark side of the moon" gets just as much sunlight, but it never faces us. Moon based solar collection will have most of the problems that Earth based collection has... and a whole host of new problems.

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### Japanese Firm Proposes Microwave-Linked Solar Plant On the Moon

Re:I think I've seen this plan (330 comments)

Really...?

First, I'm not sure what to think about the climate change political debate (which has so thoroughly obscured good science through funding bias - in both directions - and social pressure as to make actual scientific discussion practically impossible). So I'm only going to parrot for a bit.

It is all about heat, both change AND absolute. The planet is a complex system that deals with fluctuating carbon quite nicely. But those subsystems only operate well at particular temperatures. As the absolute temperature increases, less carbon gets sequestered, and green house gasses that are already sequestered get released. Thus, absolute heat drives a change in heat.

Or at least, the very loud theories say this. IANAC

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### Study Shows Agent Orange Still Taints Aging C-123s

Re:Pretty sure the USAF knew (166 comments)

Agent Orange damage can be permanent, and debilitating (at least, as it was used in Vietnam). If some of those planes lasted until 2010, and if the residue in question is at all dangerous, then it's not outrageous to imagine ongoing diagnosis.

In fact, military preparation for decommissioning / dismantling might dramatically increase the risk of airborne particulates containing the substance. (For instance: asbestos is generally quite safe until you stir it up doing remodeling, etc.) It's still a dose that pales in comparison to what happened during the war, but it would be the highest dose encountered from those planes in decades.

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### Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

I can't conceive of a toolchain or stack is going to tell me that I miscalculated a total because I left out a variable.

But can you conceive of an IDE that displays expressions in a clear and understandable way? Compare the following:
a=2
b=10
c=30
(x^(a*c/30)-2^(bx))/(5a)

To the following pasted into Desmos:
a=2
b=10
c=30
$\frac{x^{a\cdot \frac{c}{30}}-2^{bx}}{5a}$

(Note that Desmos doesn't do copy/paste particularly well, but it does make it really easy to enter formulas from the keyboard.)

Which is easier to read? The mess of parenthesis, or the formula? Which one are you more likely to make a mistake, and leave out a variable? And that's really low hanging fruit. While I agree that we aren't going to get away from text programming, that doesn't mean that all of our real-time coding tools need to be austere and display everything on straight uniform lines. We're stuck in a very old paradigm, compared to the things we're creating.

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### Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

Anyone who thinks all software has bugs has never written "Hello World" in assembly.

Perfect, trivial software is clearly possible. Perfect software that's slightly more complex is also clearly possible. We haven't yet accepted that perfect software is possible, but we should demand it (for moderately expensive software, or where bugs will cost you money, for instance). A reasonably intelligent programmer writing a modestly complex program should be able to do so perfectly. That he can't, (because his tools don't help him do so) is infuriating.

Yes, almost all software has bugs. We are way too comfortable with the idea. Software doesn't need to have bugs. We just don't have toolchains and development stacks that encourage perfect software. It's as if engineers decided to only use modeling clay for buildings, because nobody sells steel, and it's too cumbersome to smelt their own.

The profession really is no better off for accepting this sorry state.

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### How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

And even most of the data more than a few decades back is pretty suspect.

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### How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

I vote, but it's easy to see why people don't.

Because of our voting system (first-past-the-post), we've devolved into a two-party system (see Duverger's Law). Because the two big parties cannot be challenged (without an unbelievable amount of outrage), they rarely field candidates that are good for the voters, only candidates that are good for the parties. Why vote when none of the candidates represent you, or will do the things you wish to see happen?

Unfortunately, the idea that voting is useless only occurs to those of us who have two brain cells to rub together. I'd be fine with only a few voters, if they were the more intelligent population. I can draw an analogy to jury duty. Those who are smart enough to get out of it, shouldn't. Those who are smart enough to see how the voting system is broken, should vote. It may be disheartening, but we're not going to right this ship any other way.

(Which won't correct the vote rigging, but that's another topic.)

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### US Plunges To 46th In World Press Freedom Index

Re:We're the best country in the world!!! Woo!! (357 comments)

Yes. I do.

There are a few important differences, though. (1) I'm not trying to get elected to public office. (2) I'm not trying to exert political pressure while in office. (3) I'm not trying to sell ad space. (4) I'm not trying to be the voice of authority. Go look this stuff up. Make up your own mind. Just don't blindly follow the media narrative. They're biased, either toward the Democrats or Republicans... and neither of those biases give a fair reporting of the movement.

But ultimately, I'm a guy on the internet. Don't take my word at face value, any more than the word of MrBigInThePants.

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### Kicktaxing: The Crazy Complexity of Paying Tax Correctly On Crowdfunding

That website is disgusting and the text is ridiculously huge. I'm not reading that.

Dude, "Ctrl -". How do you survive on the Internet?

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### Kicktaxing: The Crazy Complexity of Paying Tax Correctly On Crowdfunding

The moderators and other tools prevent useless stuff from rising to the top.

Sometimes.

(Sorry, couldn't help myself)

And regardless of your motives, the fact that you both wrote and submitted the article can open you up to accusations of self-aggrandizement, of which the Slashthink is very very suspicious.

If this is a warning about what others might think, meant as a courtesy, then it's not well worded. If it's a request not to self-submit, then it's a worthless statement. Slashdot is about conversation. If the topic is worthy of conversation among nerds, geeks, techies, etc, then somebody needs to submit it. It doesn't do any good to tell people that they ought to be bashful.

I, for one, welcome your submission.

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### US Plunges To 46th In World Press Freedom Index

Re:We're the best country in the world!!! Woo!! (357 comments)

And what some fringe elements say at small meetings? How is that even relevant?!

Because those relatively small gatherings are where all the media cameras and microphones are. The larger movement has not, and cannot be heard nationally.

You have NOT heard the "Tea Party" movement, because you'd really have to go looking for it. You HAVE heard the constant barrage of media coverage on a particular corner of it, especially the Tea Party Express*, which is generally frowned upon by the other groups.

*(I think I've got the right group here. No slander intended if I've got the wrong one. What is called "The Tea Party" is not... it's just one of many, many organizations nationally. It's not even a good representation of the other groups.)

I am commenting on their actual representatives which are voting and passing laws not on the joe-shmoes voting them...

Again, showing that you only think you know what's going on. There are no Tea Party candidates. There never were. There is no "Tea Party" organization. There is nobody declaring which candidates may, or may not self-describe themselves as Tea Party candidates. A bunch of Republicans decided that they could ride the momentum to out-maneuver the establishment. Some of them are quite crazy, and need to be mocked. They show up to one rally, somewhere on Tax Day, put on a pretty face, and call them selves a "Tea Party Candidate". That's the whole of it.

I'll say it again. You're repeating lies. They're not your lies, so you need not feel any shame. The tea party movement started as a grass-roots movement, from the ground up. Ever since its inception, different political factions have been trying to define it or co-opt it from the outside, to some success. But at its core, there is no authoritative leader. Even "Tea Party Caucus" is a bit of a misnomer.

So, what defines "the tea party movement"? Principally: being willing to say out loud that the government is wasting our money; that our current fiscal path is unsustainable; that we can, and ought to have a balanced budget; that we can do much more with less if we cut graft, waste, and well, stealing, theft, kickbacks, cronyism, foxes watching hen houses, and the systemic deficiencies encouraging them (sometimes obvious, sometimes not).

In the words of John Green (to my nearest recollection) "If you think you might be a nerdfighter, you probably are." The same is doubly true of tea party advocates (or tea party anythings), especially as there aren't any de-facto Green brothers at the center of the nebulous thing. If there were congressmen being called the "Anonymous Caucus", you wouldn't blame Anonymous for everything they do, would you? That would be ludicrous. The tea party movement is even less organized than Anonymous. Consider that for a moment.

So, when you refer to the evil-doers in congress, please stop calling them the tea party. At best, you could refer to them as the Tea Party Caucus. The aren't just a self selected group, but a self-proclaimed group. They have chosen to define themselves in terms of the movement (and most of them do so badly). It is disingenuous, and more than a little insulting to define the movement in terms of them. Voters elected them. There were no "Tea Party" primaries, or nominations, or official nods, or unofficial nods. There is no process of keeping bad candidates from claiming the designation. Individual groups may have rallied behind them, but that is meaningless for the movement as a whole. They are congressmen, self described as tea party candidates. Nothing more.

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### US Plunges To 46th In World Press Freedom Index

Re:We're the best country in the world!!! Woo!! (357 comments)

The tea party is not and never will be the answer to the problems of the US due to their rabid irrational policies, their inability to relate cause and effect and their complete disdain for analysis, science and research. (those last two are related) Not to mention their bat shit crazy candidates.

No, the "Tea party" (there is no such thing) is not and will probably never be the answer to problems in the US because the media has focused on a very, very small, loud, and moronic corner of the movement in an uncoordinated smear campaign. Your vitriol is warranted, but only against the small target that the media has set you on. You've been duped.

What's worse is that the weak-brained have been told that the tea party movement is a good home for them. They are flocking to this "ideal environment" in droves, strangling an otherwise important political movement.

As for the Republican party, they've tried to co-opt the thing, to varying degrees of success. Most "tea-party" candidates are nothing of the sort. They just fly someone else's banner in order to get elected.

At the meetings that I've seen (from the edges), there was always an honest call for bi-partisanship, welcoming everyone from all political stripes. That's largely gone now that the Democrats, Republicans, and media have all taken the position that "the tea party" is a Republican thing. There are still people who hold out hope that it can operate in a bi-partisan (or non-partisan) fashion.

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### US Plunges To 46th In World Press Freedom Index

Re:We're the best country in the world!!! Woo!! (357 comments)

The US, land of the free! (*)

(*) applies iff you are the CEO of a MegaCorp.

You kidding? They paid quite a lot for it!

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### South Carolina Woman Jailed After Failing To Return Movie Rented Nine Years Ago

You think the sheriff, himself, personally arrested her? Not one of his deputies?

(I can't disprove it, but that would be very unusual, statistically.)

# Journals

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### Carly Fiorina interview re. her bid for US Senate

For those who don't know, Carly Fiorina (former CEO of HP) has thrown her hat in the ring for US Senate. Some see her as the current GOP front-runner. The very popular Northern California radio hosts Armstrong and Getty just had her on-air for a phone interview (podcast, 2nd hour). The interview went fairly well in her favor. She had all the right talking points. She spoke about ousting career politicians, getting regular citizens into office (such as herself) , cutting spending, and supporting small businesses (an endangered species in CA).

Those who have an opinion about her candidacy may write Jack and Joe at ArmstrongAndGetty@Yahoo.com. Their words (and therefore opinions) reach a lot of ears in Sacramento (some important), so what they say will have a minor (but very real) impact in this race. Since they encourage email from their listeners, they receive a large amount of mail on a wide variety of topics. It will take more than a single email from one person for them to really take notice. I bring this up because they will likely have her on again at some point, and they are willing to ask questions they perceive as hard questions. (This interview was fairly pedestrian; they will bring up controversy if they believe any exists.)

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### Iraq and WW3

I just had a realization. This isn't terribly flushed out, so I don't mind comments to the contrary. Please be sure to justify them, though. I'm jotting it down here so I don't forget about it, and because it falls nicely under slashdot paranoia.

* * *

Back when the Iraq war started, I was dismayed at how utterly political the event was made. By political, in this context, I mean that the war itself was/is used as a playing piece in the Democrat vs. Republican power struggle game. I thought to myself "this is absurd, these are peoples lives that are being played with".

I'm particularly dismayed by the Democrats. They profit most from having a second Vietnam, so that's how this war is being portrayed. It's easy to say that Sadam had no WMDs (let's forget about all the chemical weapons we found, that were barely reported). The more casualties we have, the better. The more savage and reckless our troops, the better. The more the war is mismanaged, the better. The more innocent people die, the better. The more we push for a Vietnam style withdraw (read defeat), the better. Is it any wonder that these are the things that keep winding up in the news? We tend to hear only about the major US victories, and all the defeats (major and minor).

The Republicans AND the white house have not been above reproach either. This war has cost more and gone longer than it should have. The American people can feel this. Never mind how it might be going right now. Most Americans falsely expected a very short occupation. To those people, this war seems to have gone on forever indeed. I still don't know if the white house lied in order to enter the war. I wouldn't put it past them, but I really don't want to accuse them of it either. That would be extremely low to stoop. Yes, there were people who should have known that they were using bad intel. Yet, the Democrats keep screaming that the White House should have some psychic ability to know things like this. They have yet to show the smoking gun that the white house lied when recommending war. That does not keep them from saying so, though. It's good for them politically if they do. If the white house didn't lie, well then the congress would have to take most of the blame for declaring war (including the democrats/Hilary; that was their job, not the white house).

Further, this keeps getting termed a "conflict" because congress never "declared" war. Any so-called-journalist who says that should be fired. Congress did authorize the use of force.
Blood by any other name runs just as red.

* * *

In that light, I realized some of the future implications that this might have. Americans wont want to go to war unless there has been an attack on American soil... Wait a moment... didn't that just happen? Yep, you guessed it. It will be hard to get America to go to war now even IF there has been an attack on American soil. Whether intentionally or not, we are being conditioned to avoid war at whatever cost. If the cost of avoiding war is a worse war later, we'll gladly pay it.

Presuming world war three rolls around at some point, it seems likely that the US will respond in much the same way it did in WW2. It will shove it's head in the sand for as long as possible. The next hitler will have an easier time getting a foothold and it will be a drawn out and bloody war to remove him. It will be much worse precisely because we wont get involved when we need to.

Israel is pretty well sunk. If worse comes to worst, they're on their own. The US isn't capable of going to war on their side. At best, we'll provide them with equipment. There's not a chance that we'll provide them with an army.

If we don't "win" in Iraq, these problems will only be worse. A loss there will almost entirely neutralize our armed forces. Consciously or not, that's what we're really fighting for here.

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### USB Solution

I was meta-moderating today, and came across an article that I missed several days ago. It concerned Microsoft's plan to introduce DRM (or something similar) to the USB specification.

Their concern: Employees are stealing sensitive information on thumb drives.

Their solution: We require all hardware manufactures to include DRM in the USB specs.

Wait a minute! First, if you cannot trust your employees then you have a problem. Admittedly there are some (read: very few) places where such security is called for. In order to get me to take you seriously, you first need to have these computers totally isolated from the internet. I also wouldn't take you very seriously if you told me that the machines had floppy drives. Now what would happen if you simply took out the "Removable Hard Disk" drivers (or even if Microsoft had a patch that removed automatic volume detection). Tweak the idea a little (find the bugs that I haven't thought of) and voila: you have a viable solution. Easy.

Of course, the easier thing is to simply avoid USB technology. But think ahead, instead of backwards. I cannot stand it when the corporate world wants to make us take a step back in technology to suit their "needs", but especially in freedom...

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### non soliciting spam?

I just had an unusual occurrence. I'm posting here to solicit opinions. Please tell me what you think about my hypothesis.

I just received an email to my account for one Darby Candi (I found this in the header). This is in my yahoo box by the way. Well, my name is not Darby. All the message said was: "interesting observed". The return address is:"Samuel Luanna"

So I assumed that "Sam" had made an error and had sent his message to the wrong address for whatever reason. But when I sent him a brief reply, the message bounced (unknown account). Upon closer examination of the original header, it appears he had replied to me. While it's hypothetically possible for him to reply to a spoofed message (I've had at least one virus spoof my account), and then quit his service, I'm thinking there is a much more devious (and realistic) explanation.

I'm wondering if some services (yahoo perhaps) are creating blacklist of spam accounts, and not just email contents. Could pretending to send out emails to mistaken addresses be a way to give the account a partially clean record? Something else along these lines perhaps? Does yahoo use spamhaus or such? Any theories would be appreciated.

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### Make Corporations Listen!

The amount has to be huge because the McDonald's corporation isn't going to give a shit if you award \$20,000. It needs to be a big enough judgment that the company has to declare it as an item on its SEC filings.

I like this idea generally. Corporations are (by and large) led by greedy men who actively attempt to be above everything. The only way to get their attention is to take power away from them. Money is one representation of that. Another, to my understanding, is that big investors read SEC filings. Such might draw away potential investors, and upset current investors. The threat of this should at least bring the issue to the CEO's personal attention.

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### Anger Management

I have decided today that I have no right to be angry when I'm tired
(unless I'm very sure I would be otherwise).

I'm not applying this to everyone, just myself. Being tired clouds one's judgment, can heighten negative emotions, an makes it harder to see someone else's point of view.

Just a thought.

(P.S. In case anyone reads this, I had this thought while trying not to explode at someone today, not because of any rash decision.)

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### The religious Government

I posted this in a response, but it follows along the lines of what I'm doing here, so I'll post it.

The fundamental theories of the US are religious ones. The idea that all men are created with equal worth and have certain inalienable rights has no bearing whatsoever in the scientific world. For all observed intents and purposes, evil dictatorship is not significantly different than democracy. It's once you define what your trying to achieve that major differences appear. From the framework we normally call "Freedom" it's a matter of making moral decisions that fit reasonably within everyone's religious values, and leaving alone those decisions that need not be made for the good of society.

Where we get into trouble is where we cannot agree on which framework to use. For instance, let's look at abortion from the most fundamental level. It has been well established in our values that children, once born, have certain inalienable rights (as citizens, though immature). The big question is whether or not unborn children have these rights yet, or not. Scientifically speaking, to the best of our knowledge, no one has these rights. Yet our culture and freedom have been enriched by them. Any decision reached would be out of religious nature, whether Judeo/Christian/Muslim, Eastern, Atheist, or other. The measure of a good moral decision is in the consideration it gives to people with different values.

Gambling has similar issues, though they're not quite as pronounced.

It is a separation of church and state, not values and state. Otherwise we would have been in trouble long ago.

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