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Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

martin-boundary About time! (107 comments)

It's a great first step for NASA, now if they can further admit that those astronauts have also come back with weird shifts in rectal geometry, we can begin to face, as a species, the deeper space facts of life.

3 days ago

Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

martin-boundary Re:Avoid New York (145 comments)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but New York is @#$^% rich! So they must be doing *something* right.

5 days ago

For Microsoft, $93B Abroad Means Avoiding $30B Tax Hit

martin-boundary Re:Okay... and? (316 comments)

But shouldn't that be up to the foreign countries where the money is earned? If a country doesn't want to tax earnings in its borders, that's their business. It doesn't mean the US or any other country should have a claim on it.

It makes perfect sense if you think of Americans as property.

For example, suppose you're this guy in America, and you buy a very expensive mainframe system. Now for various reasons, you decide to send it to Sweden, maybe you have a friend there and you're in business together. So the friend uses your mainframe for his shop 24/7, and makes lots of money. It's all happening in Sweden, using Swedish electricity, Swedish premises, Swedish sysadmins, etc.

But it's your mainframe, so you'd like a cut of the profit or at least some rent money. If your Swedish friend doesn't want to collect the money in Sweden and send it to you, that's his business, no?

Now replace you and friend with America and Sweden, and replace mainframe with you.

about a week ago

Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

martin-boundary Re:Simulations are limited by imagination (172 comments)

Sure, but the article isn't taking about simulations vs real life. It's talking about simulations vs contrived but legally required tests on manufacturer test tracks. Both are limited by imagination but simulations are more thorough, at least according to Google

Google wants to replace expensive, real testing with inexpensive, fake (aka "simulations") testing. The two aren't comparable, and the danger is that Google can lobby to change the laws to allow simulations to replace real life testing. Which is great for them, but bad for us.

Why aren't the two comparable? A simulated software environment is a development tool. It's great for working out the kinks in algorithms, but it is hopeless at working out the real manufacturing kinks in real life. In a simulation, the car performs correctly 100% of the time, repeatably. In real life, there's a screw that happens to touches one of the leads causing a short circuit in damp conditions, and the car screams to a halt in the middle of traffic.

Here's a software analogy (since we're talking about cars, we can't use a car analogy here...): simulation testing is like when you're tracing some code paths on paper, just to see if you're on the right track on the logic. It's a simulation, because you assume that the implementation has no bugs, the compiler has no bugs, the OS has no bugs, and there are no cosmic rays or DDOS attacks or the disk isn't making clicking noises. Real life testing is when your compiled code passes actual test cases in a full production environment, and has to cope with real inputs and outputs.

about a week ago

UK Police Warn Sharing James Foley Killing Video Is a Crime

martin-boundary Re:Benjamin Franklin said once (391 comments)

Also, "he, who thinks showing people jumping off the burning trade center buildings is ok, is a hypocrite"

about a week ago

How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

martin-boundary Re:Patent Trolls arent just little companies (97 comments)

If I get the idea for a new valve design that uses some obscure property of gasoline to make direct injection engines five percent more efficient then I deserve to be rewarded for that.

If I get the idea for a new valve design that uses some obscure property of gasoline to make direct injection engines five percent more efficient then I should pay you for the privilege? No. No, I should not.

Just say no.

Patents are evil. There's no reason that inventors who pay for a little piece of paper 5 minutes before everyone else should receive money from other inventors for the same idea. That's what patent licensing is.

about two weeks ago

How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

martin-boundary Re:Patent Trolls arent just little companies (97 comments)

Most things where laws are needed are a matter of opinion. Arguably, laws are merely a way of imposing an opinion on a world which naturally doesn't work that way.

about two weeks ago

How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

martin-boundary Re:Patent Trolls arent just little companies (97 comments)

While it is definitely respectable for anyone who comes up with a new innovation to protect that idea and profit if anyone else uses it ..

No. It's not respectable. Everything else you've said after that derives from a false premise.

about two weeks ago

How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

martin-boundary Re:How the Patent System Destroys Innovation (97 comments)

Extra! Extra! This just in! New research proves that patent "trolls" actively reduce wasted "R&D" attempts by sad deluded companies aiming to reinvent by themselves and worsen already existing ideas! WIPO economic policies vindicated! Simplification within reach! Coming soon: the Golden Age of the One, Single And Perfect Idea Of Everything (a.k.a. "the Wheel") ! Thanks "trolls", your country owes you a debt of gratitude!

about two weeks ago

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

martin-boundary Re:Bottom line... (170 comments)

On balance, that is a GOOD THING. Exactly 100 years ago, the German Army was marching through Belgium, the Russians were preparing to invade East Prussia, and millions of men were being mobilized all over Europe. World War One was a result of a series of diplomatic blunders, secret treaties, and severe misjudgements by many leaders of the intentions of both enemies and allies. It is quite likely that it could have been avoided if better intelligence had been available. Voluntary mutual transparency would be best, but spying is still better than secrecy.

No it's not a good thing. You're making an elementary mistake of confusing the means to an end with the end itself. While it's on balance a good thing to know more about what is going on in the world rather than less (that's the end), the means to achieve this (secretly spying) is not a good thing.

Because spying is a secret way of obtaining information, the use of that information by decision makers is necessarily also secret (otherwise the secrecy would be broken and the spying activity would be undermined). But decision makers making decisions using secret information means that their decisions cannot be audited, and cannot be directly argued against in the open, by anyone who isn't privy to the secret information, eg the public. Therefore, such decision makers are all powerful, and unaccountable, ie undemocratic.

So if you think spying is a good thing, then you implicitly believe that unaccountable government is a good thing. In truth, voluntary mutual transparency would be best, but spying is equivalent to secrecy.

about two weeks ago

Maryam Mirzakhani Is the First Woman Fields Medalist

martin-boundary Re:Is there a need for all these PC things ? (75 comments)

You could dismiss these concerns as activism, but that's terribly tunnel-visioned.

Only for some values of terribly.

Every African and every women who for some reason or another has missed out on the opportunity to study STEM is another mind that could potentially have been another Euler or Gauss but was denied the chance. Unless women are intrinsically less adept at math (which I personally do not believe is the case), we've been missing out on half the world's great mathematicians.

Well I'm glad you're willing to bet the future of the human race on a personal belief. I on the other hand want to see proof of what you claim.

Could you imagine how different the earth would be today if we had two Fermats, two Euclids, two Poincares?

Hell, why stop there? I'd aim a bit higher: two hundred Einsteins! Imagine what the world would be like if it wasn't how it is!

How much knowledge have we lost for the lack of women in math and science? This isn't about "leaving math and science alone" from activism. This is about untapping all the math and science talent that has been hidden away for hundreds of years.

No, it's activism. It's you putting some naive notion of equality together with a linear extrapolation on the number of geniuses to claim a justification for messing with a system of knowledge that's been evolving for nigh on two thousand years.

Personally, I want my mathematicians to be socially awkward, highly pedantic, focused individuals who would be happy to live three quarters of their adult lives in a darkened room full of books (aka a library), have people to cook for them and tidy their bedrooms. And to be honest, those qualities probably select for white, male, and privileged in our current world, but I don't care.

about two weeks ago

Twitter Reports 23 Million Users Are Actually Bots

martin-boundary Re:Twitter Bots are GREAT (84 comments)

You should write a bot that posts on slasdot for you. You know, cut out the middle man and all that :)

about two weeks ago

Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

martin-boundary Re:It's easy to fix (561 comments)

Just break down all the employees into the smallest groups possible. Instead of "White" or "African", break it down to German, Swiss, Dutch, South African, Tanzanian, and so on. With everything down to a few dozen members per group, you'll have a nice flat diversity line. :P

Oh. Err, yeah, that works too, I guess. I was thinking castrate a few of the males and distribute some afro wigs to equalize the employee counts. But yeah, I guess we can do your thing.

about two weeks ago

Maryam Mirzakhani Is the First Woman Fields Medalist

martin-boundary Re:here we go again... (75 comments)

She commented on the "gender inequality thing" herself.

I'm going to guess you've never given an interview in your life? Some guy (or girl) chats with you, asks 20 questions of you about lots of different things, then excuses himself (herself). You don't hear anything more for a couple of weeks, then you get to read a writeup containing 4 or 5 of those questions, with bits and pieces of your full answers cut and pasted into a shortened "narrative".

There's no way to know why she brought up the "gender inequality thing", if it was a short comment or a major theme for her. All we can say for sure is that journalists decide what they want to write about, and they make it look like it all came from the interviewee.

In the end, it's about selling magazine stories, and writing what the readers will like to see so that they are willing to give away some of their hard earned cash.

about three weeks ago

DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

martin-boundary Re:Biometrics are great until... (383 comments)

Please choose biometrics that aren't part of my extremities.

Who do you think you are, a civilian? A citizen accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic, defending it with his life, a civilian does not. What's a few extremities in the war against computer bugs?

about three weeks ago

John McAfee Airs His Beefs About Privacy In Def Con Surprise Talk

martin-boundary Re:Privacy is an illusion (124 comments)

A compelling illusion, but an illusion nonetheless. The metadata generated by even the most privacy conscious individual leaves a mark, and given the resources of an interested government, only the most dedicated living off the grid can escape their view.

That's a pretty trite comment, if you don't mind me saying so. We already know that *if we don't fight for it*, then privacy is at best an illusion. Duh. If I don't enter the lottery, I can't win either. My god, are you sure, really? I actually have to enter? I never knew that!

Privacy is a set of rights that must be demanded to be built into the system of government and society at large. It's one part of Liberty, and it's up to us to make it happen. We can make it happen through laws, we can make it happen through free software, we can make it happen through education, we can make it happen through threats and violence, etc. No single option is a silver bullet. All options can advance the cause in some small way. Figure out where your talents are then you'll start to see where you can help out (assuming you want privacy).

about three weeks ago

NFL Players To Use Tablet Computers During Games

martin-boundary Re:American football (107 comments)

Let me tell you something, Mate. We Aussies don't do sportsing anymore, we do sporties. 'Cause in Oz, it's all about rooting for your favourite team.

about a month ago


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