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Kazakhstan Wants Russia To Hand Over Their Baikonur Space City

slcdb Get ready (131 comments)

Prepare for the onslaught of "In Soviet Russia ..." jokes.

more than 2 years ago

Wikileaks Releases Video of Journalist Killings

slcdb Re:C'mon! Let me shoot! (1671 comments)

The problem here is that Wikileaks' edited version of the video doesn't let the facts stand for themselves. Instead they applied their own political agenda in order to influence the viewer's opinion.

Here are some of the *facts* that Wikileaks excludes in order to (IMO) purposely distort the viewer's impression to make this appear to be a clear-cut case of wrongdoing:

Fact #1) There were firefights ongoing in the immediate area where this took place. U.S. troops on the ground there had called the helicopters in for assistance. The ground troops identified this group of men as being armed and as being a threat (apparently believing they had been participants in earlier firefights).

Fact #2) Some of the men in the group *were* armed. They were carrying *at least* one AK-47 rifle and one RPG. They are clearly visible in the unedited video (They may also be visible in the edited version. I don't remember seeing them, but the video's editing may have simply drawn my attention away from them). They were recovered by the infantry who arrived on the scene after the attack. The RPG rounds were apparently later destroyed by explosives ordinance disposal personnel (i.e. "The Hurt Locker" guys).

Fact #3) The photographer peeked around the corner, pointed his camera at U.S. troops and vehicles down the street, and snapped at least three photographs of them. It's not clear in the video that this is what's happening; it became evident after the fact (when the camera was recovered). The helicopter crew saw this and mistook it as an attempt to target the U.S. troops and/or vehicles down the street. This is understandable from watching the video. It's not at all apparent that this person is a photographer. What the crew *did* see was a man definitely carrying an RPG disappear behind that building. Later they see someone carefully peeking around the corner aiming something at the position where the ground troops are.

Fact #4) The U.S. Army didn't cover this up. Reports were written up and investigations were done. They even apparently screened the gun camera video to some members of the press (I believe they can't publicly release unredacted video like this because it would violate the Geneva Convention regarding broadcasting images/video of wounded/killed enemies).

The other thing to keep in mind is that for most of us civilians, the men who were attacked look just like a bunch of regular guys. They don't look like enemy combatants to us. But to a soldier who has been in dozens of engagements with insurgents, these guys would look *exactly* like enemy combatants. They don't wear uniforms. They don't drive armored vehicles. They wear regular clothes and drive around in sedans, and pickup trucks. Perhaps the only ways insurgents can be distinguished from innocent civilians is that insurgents hang around an active combat zone while innocent civilians will generally try to make themselves scarce (notice in the video that the streets are empty, with the exception of this group of men), and insurgents can sometimes be spotted carrying weapons (as was the case here).

Wikileaks would have us believe that it was wrong for the helicopter to engage these men under these circumstances. I think any reasonable person who has even the slightest understanding of war would see that there was a (reaonable) perceived threat and that they took the appropriate action (i.e. they eliminated the perceived threat). Also, they used the most proportionate force they had at their disposal (the 30-mm gun). Wikileaks decries the usage of such an anti-vehicle weapon against personnel, but it's the smallest caliber weapon the helicopter has (the other option would have been a hellfire missile).

As for the van the picture is a little less clear. The helicopter crew did previously observe what looked like it could have been the same van prior to the attack. It's at the very beginning of the unedited video. There's not enough context to know exactly why they seemed suspicious of the van, but the impression it leaves is that someone else (probably on the ground) had notified them to be on the lookout for such a vehicle. Or it may have simply been suspicious because it was driving around an area where active hostilities were taking place. We may never know. Nevertheless, apparently the law of war and the U.S. Army's rules of engagement allow for attacking combatants who are attempting to flee. I'm not necessarily condoning the attack on the van, but I don't think it's a clear-cut case where something illegal was done. Keep in mind that civilians probably do not usually charge into an area where there are quite obviously active hostilities taking place. Consider if the van had been an armored vehicle. Would it have been wrong to attack it? Probably not. But we know that insurgents don't drive armored vehicles so the reality on the ground in this war would never be that easy to discern.

Wikileaks does a good job of making it appear as though "C'mon! Let me shoot!" is merely the gunner's plea to get his adrenaline fix for the day. When viewed in context and with a bit of critical thinking applied, it becomes apparent that the gunner actually is pleading for permission to engage not because he wants to kill for killing's sake, but because he knows his fellow soldiers' lives could be on the line and he is in the unique position to be able to prevent the enemy from being able to even attempt to cause them any harm.

The other thing the video shows us is that war really is hell. We hear that all the time. Well, here it is front and center. To quote a marine I once heard talk about this sort of thing, "We're not trained to come over here and shoot rainbows out of our asses. We're trained to fucking kill people!" While this isn't a pleasant reality for us to have to face, some people obviously have a much harder time dealing with that reality than others.

Links to references:

Interview of reporter who was in the area that day
Unedited gun camera video
Photos from the dead cameraman's camera, the U.S. Army's report, and more

more than 4 years ago

State of Alabama Fighting NASA's New Plan

slcdb Re:And keep the government off my Medicare! (340 comments)

Your points are far too even-keeled and rational for a Slashdot post. Are you sure you didn't accidentally stumble on the wrong website?

more than 4 years ago

State of Alabama Fighting NASA's New Plan

slcdb Re:Well, shoot, son (340 comments)

Making fun of ignorance is always accepted.

Indeed. We should make fun of all ignorant people. Including the dumbfucks here who think that anybody from "down south" or "out west" who doesn't live on a coast is somehow mentally retarded or at a very minimum one variety of bible-thumping, goat raping, redneck or another. Why, I believe that kind of ignorance -- which leads to the bigotry previously mentioned here -- far outshines the alleged ignorance that you allude to. So lets have at it shall we? Let's make some serious god-damned fun of those ignoramuses. I'll let you start.

In the meantime, let me point out that Constellation's crew launch vehicle would not be "competing" with any "existing commercial rockets" as claimed in the summary. There's not a single commercial rocket certified for human transport and it will likely be some time (if ever) before any of the existing ones achieve that goal. Until then, they are talking about the spaceflight equivalent of vaporware.

Yours truly,

An allegedly ignorant redneck hillbilly from "the middle of fucking nowhere", Utah, who spends his spare time (between good goat fucks, of course) doing engineering work for MIT and their clients. And I like shooting guns too. How's that for stereoptypes?

more than 4 years ago

Defining Useful Coding Practices?

slcdb Re:Not that hard. (477 comments)

Yeah, I stopped reading the article at that point. I immediately recognized that it was walking a linked list. I was expecting that his explanation would be something along the lines of, "Although this code *seems* to be walking a linked list, it actually does something *completely* unexpected... ". Nope... apparently it took him "a good deal of research" to figure that out. Which left me thinking, "Program much?"

more than 5 years ago

MIT and the DARPA Network Challenge

slcdb Re:DARPA is mapping society. (68 comments)

Allow me to posit an alternative interpretation. DARPA is not interested in mapping our society. They're interested in learning what the most effective strategies are for quickly locating things that they *know* exist and are "out there", but don't know their exact locations. Perhaps the application of such a strategy could be useful for one of DoD's other pet projects. You know, the one where they're trying to find Osama bin Waldo and his Al Quaedian friends.

Nah, clearly that would just be too far-fetched a theory. Clearly, what we need is an explanation with a much higher dose of paranoia, hidden agendas, conspiracies, Big Brother, and a helluva lot of tin foil hats.

more than 5 years ago

MIT and the DARPA Network Challenge

slcdb Re:'Scuse the Nasty, Paranoid Mind (68 comments)

No, but they might try to use what they learn to figure out the best strategy for finding something else... or someone else... they'd like to find. *Cough* Osama bin Laden, et. al. *Cough*

more than 5 years ago

SETI@home Project Responds To School Firing

slcdb Re:Why say more? (295 comments)


So this talk of police investigations and possible criminal charges is ridiculous. If his activities caused as large an increase in electricity costs as the superintendent implies they had, then you'd think that at some point during the 10 years he was running SETI@Home that someone from the district's accounting department would have started wondering why their electric bills suddenly increased for seemingly no reason. I call bullshit.

At best, they could fire him (if he hadn't already resigned) for his making poor "business" decisions (in their view). But they certainly can't claim this software was "unauthorized", and therefore a criminal violation, when he is the guy who *they* appointed to make those decisions on behalf of the district.

You could just as easily argue that letting the CPUs, that they *paid good money for*, sit idle 75% of the time is a waste of resources that could otherwise be put to good use. No doubt, most people who run SETI@Home probably have used this, in part, as rationalization for their participation in the program. So, from a different point of view, his decision to maximize the utilization of the district's computing facilities was a good one.

The whole reaction to it reeks of some kind of grudge against the guy.

more than 5 years ago

Is That "Sexting" Pic Illegal? A Scientific Test

slcdb Re:Not the whole story (711 comments)

Public distribution is something else entirely.

Yes, that would be copyright infringement.

more than 5 years ago

Perl Migrates To the Git Version Control System

slcdb Re:Migration too soon / git not mature on Win32? (277 comments)

Cygwin is the #1 best thing that Windows has going for itself.

So, if git causes a few more people to learn about Cygwin (and the HUGE benefits it provides Windows users), then that is a plus in my book.

about 6 years ago

IT Job Without a Degree?

slcdb Yes, there is hope. My anecdote... (1123 comments)

My first serious job was as a sysadmin for a small software company in the mid-nineties. At the time I was attending university pursuing a BS CS degree. I had no prior sysadmin experience, but worked my way up into the position doing technical support.

Fast forward to today, some 10 years later: I never finished my degree (only completed maybe 50-75%) and am earning ~$105k as a software engineer at a pretty prestigious institution that hires lots of PhDs and other advanced degree holders.

The bottom line is this: If you can prove yourself, there is hope for a decent IT career without a degree.

more than 6 years ago

US Army Sees Twitter As Possible Terrorist "Operation Tool"

slcdb W. T. F. Seriously. (320 comments)

I know this is slashdot and all, but seriously... wtf is the matter with all these moronic posters here talking about "paranoia" and how stupid the army is that they don't "get" the Internet.

First of fscking all, the army knows what the Internet is good for, considering they're basically the ones who had the thing built for the very purposes we all use it for today (well, maybe not porn and shopping). Of course they are aware of its utility as a communications tool!

Second, the only paranoia here is emanating from you poor bastards who are worried that Twitter is gonna get banned. The army isn't paranoid that Twitter might be used by terrorists. They're pointing out the fact that its real-time broadcast ability makes it a really useful information dissemination tool. Hence the examples about how quickly it was used to inform about the earthquake, and its effectiveness at broadcasting police movements.

All this report is saying is that Twitter may become some terrorists' communications medium of choice. No talk of banning it. Nothing said about all Twitter users being terrorists or anarchists. This was just an intelligence report pointing out that maybe Twitter is something they should expect the enemy to be using for conducting operations. That's all. Not surprising. Not unreasonable. Not paranoid.

more than 6 years ago



Court Says WoW Users Don't Own Their Game Discs

slcdb slcdb writes  |  more than 4 years ago

slcdb (317433) writes "On Tuesday December 14th, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that World of Warcraft users do not own their copies of the game discs, in effect robbing them of rights they would otherwise have under US copyright law. Because Blizzard's EULA for World of Warcraft is typical of EULAs used by other companies in the software industry, this decision likely affects virtually all other software sold over the counter. If you think you actually own the copies of software that you purchase at a store or online, think again."
Link to Original Source

"Open Sourcing" the Law

slcdb slcdb writes  |  more than 7 years ago

slcdb writes "Most of the codified laws of the land, such as the Unites States Code, have been freely available online for some time. But case law, a significant body of the law, has mostly only been available to law firms and others who can afford to pay for expensive subscriptions to services like Westlaw and LexisNexis. One Carl Malamud has begun to open the source of "the operating system of our society". With the help of the EFF, Carl has recently secured access to a "huge chunk" of case law, much of it going back to the 1950s and some going back as far as 1754. His non-profit company, Public.Resource.Org, is using open source tools to massage the data and put it online."
Link to Original Source


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