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Comment Require military trigger pullers (Score 5, Informative) 70

TFA explicitly points out that the civilians will not be pulling the trigger. They will be used only for Combat Air Patrols (a term that seems just a bit inappropriate) that are for data gathering and surveillance only. The trigger pullers will be active duty military.

The problem, in TFA's eyes is that this represents a slippery slope - how many degrees of separation do you need in a military setting?

IIRC, the air force has about four major protocol points that they follow in order to ensure that drone strikes are legal. One of those is that the person pulling the trigger be military so that you are ensured a direct chain of command, i.e. legal authority to kill others on behalf of the state, (this also ensures they get qualified immunity from lawsuits.)

Comment Re:Hunting Terrorists / Getting Shot (Score 1) 131

No, actually, I don't remember any reference to the use of bulk metadata being useful in the hunt for the bombers. I did find one link that stated that the bulk collection was actually a hindrance, because there was too much data to soft through.

If you look at the documentaries, it's very clear that the FBI was sorting through the bulk metadata. IIRC they were looking for a cell phone call made at a certain time in order to trace the caller.

Comment Hunting Terrorists / Getting Shot (Score 1) 131

They did use the metadata in the hunt for the Boston Bombers, if you remember. The FBI basically admitted it while edging around talking directly about the classified database of phone calls and when they were made.

Also, the primary incentive-based reason people at our intelligence agencies don't deliberately allow significant attacks (at least on US soil) in that they would get lined up against the wall and shot if anyone found out. It may still happen occasionally, but if it does... their colleagues probably find out and kill them. Or at least send them into early retirement. It usually wouldn't help PR or the country to admit it had happened.

Most people in intelligence wouldn't do it anyway because of morality, but the people who would still have strong incentives not to do it.

Comment Lying about accepting cards (Score 2) 113

London cabs don't accept credit cards?!?!

Most black cabs already do. Addison Lee has had an app with driver tracking, credit card payments and so on for years. This is kind of massively not news.

I took a cab at one point late last year when Uber didn't work on my phone. The driver pretended his credit card reader wouldn't work in the hope of getting me to pay cash.

This is, incidentally, the kind of shit that makes people hate cabs.

Comment Ignorant Salesmen (Score 1) 470

This +100.

Dealers need to step aside and get out of the fucking way of the sale. It's a stupid business model. There is no value in having a middleman in this process anymore.

There's no value in having the same business responsible for sale and service where the guys selling are not the guys servicing. There might be some value if the guys wore two hats--i.e. actual experience with the car. But ignorant salespeople don't seem uncommon. The summary mentions one buyer who knew a lot more about the car than the salesman. The last time I bought a car (used car but from a dealer), the salesman didn't even know the car had all-wheel drive, and tried to upsell an old entertainment system in a vehicle we didn't want like it was a significant feature. And that was in a *posh* neighborhood in a fairly cold climate where you could have sold the AWD.

Comment Rebates (Score 1) 470

Dealers have a conflict of interest because manufacturers are dumb. Manufacturers have variable margins built into the cars that encourage sales. One would hope they line up with the maker's desires (or profits), but often they don't. And makers like GM that have $2000 rebates on everything almost all the time encourage buyers to avoid them when there isn't a sale.

Rebates are mostly just there to be an accounting trick. IIRC they let you increase your Revenue on paper and maybe take a corresponding tax deduction for the promotion.

Comment Duty to defend (Score 1) 100

Insurance companies are in the business of paying for as little as possible. There are legitimate questions about whether something is covered and then there is the massive fraud they engage in as a regular part of their business model.

The question will be whether the coverage extends to cover Cox if they are found guilty of violating the DMCA. If the claim even *might* be something they have to cover, then they probably have to defend it. (The duty to defend is generally broader than the duty to pay for the loss).

Comment Transition (Score 1) 232

The garbage heap.

Yes, but it will take decades to transition and the industry will move along with it to some extent. The future is the small screen close to your eye. The big screen you used to need in your house will eventually disappear. But like the desktop computer, it will take a long time to do so.

Comment Sometimes (Score 1) 21

Is the ability to practice on a particular patient really necessary? It seems like the time it would take to do a dry-run is the time that the surgeon could be performing another surgery. If individual patients' vascular systems so different that they cause problems for surgeons, then sure this development is great. But are they all really so different as to justify an expensive and time-consuming test dry run before each operation?

It probably depends on how good the scans are, and if they're good enough then cases far outside the norm can be practiced on first. Maybe you are operating on someone with a lot of scar tissue from badly done prior operations--that can be hard and it might be better to practice first. Maybe you are operating on someone heavier than anyone you've operated on by a hundred pounds. Maybe you are dealing with something fairly obscure and there are only a dozen cases in the medical literature, so you've never done it. Maybe you are doing something that hasn't been done in a long time because of changing demographics.

And maybe you are dealing with a surgery where the odds of long-term survival are 10% better if you try it on a simulation first. We don't know until we run some experiments. So let's run some experiments, especially on hard types of surgery like for pancreatic and intestinal cancer, or neurosurgery.

Comment Not so political (Score 1) 222

Let me rephrase my previous post...

The Judge who is supporting a law passed by Clinton (whose wife is running for president) was appointed by Bush (whose brother is running for president).

I really hope our choices for president next year involve neither of these two families.

It doesn't really work like this. Good Judges "support" all laws regardless of whether they are drafted by a Republican or a Democrat. They may approach their legal analysis a little differently, but fundamentally they're interested in applying the law to a given case. Occasionally (and more frequently as you move up through appeals) they are also interested in making sure that the way they interpret the law applies correctly to all related cases. When they're trial judges, if they get it wrong they can be overturned by appellate judges. When they're appellate judges, they also have to forge a consensus with colleagues, who may be either Democratic or Republican appointees. Either way, they're interested in getting it right.

Incidentally, Federal Judges are, for the most part, pretty much the bomb. The judge you met in traffic court or family court or judge Judy or whatever else you think when you think of a judge, federal judges are a lot more thoughtful and deliberative and on average a lot smarter.

Comment Motion for Summary Judgment (Score 5, Informative) 222

If the judge is clearly siding with one party ahead of trial, shouldn't they be able to get him off this case on grounds of being biased?
Or is this also not a thing in the funky US justice system?

Law suits happen in stages which are established largely by procedural rules. Deciding against one party on a motion isn't enough of an indicator of bias to get a judge removed.

Decisions about a conflict in the facts claimed by either side are made by a jury; decisions about the law are made by a judge. Sometimes you can get rid of some questions before the trial goes to a jury by just looking at the law. Like if both parties agree that I was really mean to you, but the law says being really mean isn't something you can sue over, then it doesn't have to go to a jury. Here, both sides agree Cox didn't cut off access, but Cox is claiming the safe harbor applies so it shouldn't even have to go to a jury.

Summary judgment motions are controlled by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department