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Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

rmckeethen I can't believe... (224 comments)

...that no one has even considered how this stacks-up to the Time Cube.

about three weeks ago
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Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

rmckeethen Re:First blacks, (917 comments)

The real question is whether you think a restaurant should have the right to discriminate against gays, black people, jews, swedes, poor people, poorly dressed people, etc. I think they should. It's not because I think discrimination is ok.

I see two problems here. First, you seem to be contradicting yourself. Either you believe it's OK to discriminate or you don't. If you think a restaurant should have the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation, race, religion or attire, than you believe discrimination is OK. You may not practice such discrimination yourself, but your statement makes it clear that you don't have a problem when other people do practice such discrimination.

The second issue I note is a little more subtle, but I think it too deserves attention. Specifically, discrimination based on something like attire, which is relatively easy for anyone to alter to meet a businesses' requirement, is inherently different from discrimination based on an inflexible aspect like ethnicity. In other words, I can change my shirt and tie without too much trouble, but I can't ever change the racial makeup of my parents, grandparents, etc. Conflating these two types of discrimination is, in my opinion, intellectually dishonest. It leaves people with the false impression that restrictions on 'discrimination' are simply trying to limit or curtail the ability of businesses to make *any* choices regarding their clientele, customers, policies, etc. That's not what's going on here. The question at hand is, "In Arizona, will a restaurant be able to post a sign that reads, 'We refuse to serve gays.'"

about 2 months ago
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Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

rmckeethen Re:Good (544 comments)

Throwing invalid and in many cases demonstrably false claims at students who don't have the background to see the invalidity is ludicrous.

But the real world throws-out false and misleading claims all the time. If we don't teach students how to think critically, how to weigh evidence-backed claims against claims based solely on authority, culture, religion, etc., than how are students ever supposed to gain the skills required to make reasoned choices when encountering conflicting 'facts' for the first time?

I mean, why single science out? Why not teach Holocaust denial in history class? After all, wouldn't that challenge students too? Perhaps you could also teach 2+2=5 and French verb conjugation in English class.

I dearly hope schools teach Holocaust denial in history class, and the conjugation of French verbs in English class. Examining the reasons why Holocaust denial persists against overwhelming evidence to the contrary can teach far more about why the Holocaust happened in the first place than any mere regurgitation of the historical facts involved. In the same vein, comparing and contrasting English verb conjugation against the French equivalent can serve as a stepping-stone to understanding how language actually works, which can in turn lead to a whole host of fascinating ideas you might never have even imagined existed otherwise. So yes -- I do hope schools are teaching exactly these kinds of things.

Schools are supposed to teach science, like any other subject, to a reasonable degree of accuracy. Teaching students that somehow just because someone calls some nonsense claim a "theory" is not teaching at all.

You're talking about teaching science instead of religion in the classroom; what I'm suggesting is that we'd be better off if we simply taught the scientific method instead. Ultimately, I don't believe that science lies only in facts like the weight of an electron, or the density of water at one atmosphere, or concepts like the Theory of Evolution. At least as I understand it, what science is truly about is a way of looking at the world around us, thinking about how that world is actually put together, and then testing those thoughts to see if there's any evidence to support them. I think if you can teach core concepts like that to students, and get them to understand what it really means, than you'll have armored those students against the myriad of dogmatic 'truths' the world is all too likely to throw at them.

about 3 months ago
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Yahoo Encrypting Data In Wake of NSA Revelations

rmckeethen Useless (and an obvious deception) (137 comments)

Let's be real about this -- if the N.S.A. wants data on any particular Yahoo user, or on all Yahoo users for that matter, it's not going to make one wit of difference if Yahoo encrypts its data or not. All the N.S.A. has to do is issue a national security letter, and Yahoo will cough-up whatever they got. Yahoo's encrypting the data on disk or in transit through their datacenters is little more than a pathetic attempt to lure customer's into believing that Yahoo is doing something to protect their data when, in fact, there's little Yahoo can do to prevent the N.S.A. for getting its hands on your data.

about 5 months ago
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Top US Lobbyist Wants Broadband Data Caps

rmckeethen Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (568 comments)

I'd second this. For the past three months I've been using Sonic.net for business-class DSL, and I'm pretty happy with them. It's been rock-solid for reliability and performance, plus their support staff are a pleasure to work with. Thumbs-up for Sonic.net.

about 6 months ago
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Anonymous Leaks Internal Bank of America Emails

rmckeethen Re:And... (535 comments)

Amen, brother. This is what I've been saying for years. Blaming the corporate name and logo for bad business behavior is both pointless and counterproductive. It's like the police fingering my famous twin brother for a crime I committed simply because my twin's name is well-known while mine is not. Corporations can't commit crimes -- the people making the decisions for those corporations are the ones we need to hold accountable. As long as we let crooks and swindlers hide behind the fiction of corporate personhood, the real people who actually commit these crimes are never going to see any incentive to stop fleecing the public.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Data-Only Phone, Voice Over WiFi?

rmckeethen I Solved A Similar Problem (208 comments)

A few months ago, I decided to ditch my landline and move as many calls as I could to my iPhone via SIP. Here's how I did it:

***My Equipment***

  • An unlocked iPhone with a prepaid T-Mobile SIM
  • A copy of the freeware VoIP app. Siphon
  • A used Macmini server I picked-up for $200
  • VMware Fusion running on the Macmini server
  • The Incredible PBX from Nerd Vittles
  • A free ISP connection courtesy of my very cute and extremely generous next door neighbor Christina

The Incredible PBX (I-PBX) runs within VMware and is pre-configured to support free VoIP calls anywhere in the US over Google Voice. The Google Voice service gives me a local phone number (DID), and will route calls to my home-based I-PBX over GTalk. Siphon on the iPhone gives me both in and outbound SIP calling while I'm on WiFi at home. At home, I also have a Cisco VoIP phone I got a few years ago which also handles inbound and outbound calls. When I'm away from home, I can make outbound calls whenever there's a WiFi network available by routing the calls over a VPN connection back to the Macmini server.

Note that there were a couple of caveats with my setup. The biggest problem is that inbound calls via Google Voice and GTalk don't seem to work reliably; the phones ring, but the voice connection never seems to work. I tend to think the problem is in my configuration though, and if I spent a bit more time troubleshooting the issue, I'm sure I could solve the problem. However, I can still use Google Voice to forward inbound calls back to the iPhone phone via the cellular network. I can then get the call, figure out who it is and how long it will take and, if it's going be be more than a couple of minutes, I can call back via VoIP.

more than 3 years ago
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Entergy Admits 2005 Tritium Leak

rmckeethen Re:Yes but (385 comments)

The problem is they lied under oath. And once people are lying about the state of things you don't know what else they are or will lie about. These might not matter, but they might very well lie about the next leak when it is a serious problem. As with many issues, the initial incident isn't nearly as much of a problem as the coverup.

How do you know they lied? How can you be sure it wasn't an honest error by a company official who simply didn't understand the technical details of the reactor's plumbing? I don't know about you but, in my experience, these types of corporate misstatements and goof-ups are pretty common in any industry, nuclear or otherwise. I'm not convinced that isn't the case here. TFA doesn't provide enough evidence one way or the other on this point. It certainly doesn't substantiate a deliberate coverup. There's just no hard evidence of that.

The recent revelation of a tritium leak at Vermont Yankee in 2005 seems, at least to me, to indicate that someone at Entergy is trying to be up-front and honest with the public and the NRC. I applaud that. Good for them. God knows, after Three-Mile Island in 1979, I can't imagine anyone in the US nuclear industry wanting to admit to any accident, benign or otherwise.

As others have already pointed out, a tritium leak isn't particularly dangerous. I don't feel compelled to get my own knickers in a knot over the problem. But I do think it's telling how quickly a minor leak at a nuclear facility spirals into, "They're lying -- it's a coverup!" This type of knee-jerk anti-nuclear reaction is exactly why the US hasn't built a new reactor in over a quarter of a century. It's also why I'm dubious about new nuclear projects today. Until US citizens show a willingness to get facts in their hands and abandon the "if it's nuclear it must be bad' mentality we are never going to have the kind of debate we deserve to have over the pros and cons of nuclear energy.

more than 4 years ago
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Dell Found Guilty of Fraud, False Advertising

rmckeethen Re:Dude! Yer gettin' a slap on the wrist. (402 comments)

This is a pet peeve of mine, so I'll apologize in advance for the rant, but I think the idea of a so-called corporate death penalty, or revoking the corporate charter, is just a bad idea in general.

Why? Simple -- it gives corporate decision makers, i.e. the real, flesh and blood people actually responsible for these types of problems, an easy-out of the mess they created. The corporate death penalty is, it seems to me, just a giant grant of absolution for corporate officers who are, in many cases, committing out-and-crimes.

Think about it; did Enron's corporate charter, i.e. the legal fiction we once collectively called Enron the company, commit massive financial fraud? No. Kenneth Lay, Jeffery Skilling and the other directors of Enron deceived the public and their investors about Enron's true state of financial affairs. These individuals committed the crime. The corporate charter had no part in the affair. Does revoking the corporate charter affect Enron's decision makers in any way, forcing them to accept responsibility for their actions? No. What it does is get them off the hook for any personal financial responsibility to the investors they defrauded.

This I think is a bad idea. Acquitting the criminals and focusing on the legal entity as the responsible party does nothing to detour this type of behavior in the future.

Revoking the corporate charter in situations like the Enron debacle only shifts blame away from the individuals responsible for the bad conduct. In addition, killing the corporate entity hurts the investors and the regular employees of the corporation, the folks who, in most part, had little to do with the fraud involved. The employees are now suddenly out of a job and the investors, the real targets of the fraud in the Enron case, are now left with nothing, having been bilked by Lay and Skilling and now, with the imposition of corporate death penalty, further harmed by the public at large. Is that what we want? Does killing the legal facade of a corporation really serve any purpose except to make us feel better when we associate the name 'Enron' with billions of dollars lost to overstated earnings and financial fraud?

In the end, the people running Enron created the mess that sank the company. The investors paid the price; they saw their hard-earned money literally vanish overnight. Revoking Enron's corporate charter wouldn't have fixed this problem. If we want revenge for the crime, we should go after the people who committed the fraud -- the former directors of the company. The corporate charter is just a legal smokescreen, and it should be treated as such.

more than 5 years ago

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